Home Healthcare: A Beneficial Component For Patients
India needs to focus on healthcare in fast-growing tier II and III cities, a partnership with home healthcare providers would be mutually beneficial
As the World Health Organisation celebrates its 70th anniversary on April 7, the focus and theme of this year’s World Health Day is Universal health coverage: everyone, everywhere. And the slogan is “Health for All”.
Call it a coincidence or a visionary thought, India had earlier this year announced path breaking schemes aimed at providing health coverage to the weakest while working for the theme health for all.
In the Union Budget presented on February 1 this year, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley had launched two major initiatives aimed at universal health coverage. One was the establishment of health and wellness centres and the other a national health protection scheme.
The Narendra Modi government’s ambitious National Health Protection Scheme (NHPS) for over 10 crore poor and vulnerable families are considered to be a pathbreaking step. In real numbers, an estimated 50 crore individual beneficiaries would get coverage of up to Rs 5 lakh per family per year.
This is undoubtedly the world’s largest government-funded healthcare programme. This is the second major health insurance programme of the NDA government after the Pradhan Mantri Jeevan Jyoti Bima Yojana (PMJJBY).
NHPS will be part of an umbrella Ayushman Bharat scheme, along with a preventive healthcare component worth Rs 1,200 crore. These two far-reaching initiatives under the Ayushman Bharat aims to build a New India by 2022 and ensure enhanced productivity, well-being and avert wage loss and impoverishment due to health issues.
Says Swadeep Srivastava, Managing Partner of India Virtual Hospital, “Ayushman Bharat is the cornerstone of the Modi government’s healthcare initiatives and is in sync with this year’s WHO call to invest in Universal Health Care by making the sound investment in human capital”.
According to WHO, “access to essential quality care and financial protection enhances people’s health and life expectancy. Aysuhman Bharat aims at just this – provide access to healthcare, financial protection through insurance, improve health and life expectancy and drive economic growth while ensuring gender equality.
The government’s initiatives are laudable. But this is bound to put pressure on government hospitals. The private sector’s massive infrastructure must be leveraged across the entire healthcare value chain to deliver on India’s need for quality healthcare and improved health outcomes.
One such initiative that is fast catching up in India’s healthcare value chain is home healthcare.
Home healthcare is a distributed hospital that uses the existing unutilised capacity in patient homes to address infrastructural gaps in hospitals; it is also cost-effective. There are numerous procedures which do not need a hospital visit or the attention of doctors who are hard-pressed of time. All this can be done at home, says Vivek Srivastava, CEO of HealthCare At Home.
Home healthcare also reduces the average length of stay of patients at hospitals minimising the pressure on hospital infrastructure, ensuring smooth transition from hospital to home, decreasing chances of re-admissions and offering personalised care and attention.
If India needs to focus on healthcare in fast-growing tier II and III cities, a partnership with home healthcare providers would be mutually beneficial.
Patients residing in tier III cities at a distance of around 200 km from a tertiary care centre often discontinue their treatment in the middle due to rising costs and inconveniences like travel, lack of attendants. This is where home healthcare services come into play by providing step-down care including complete ICU setup and chemotherapy delivery right at their home at a fraction of the cost.
While healthcare at home will be a critical component in India’s health value chain, the government’s Ayushman Bharat and partnership with private sector hospitals would make a New India by 2022 that is healthy and an economic powerhouse.