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BW Businessworld

I’m Confused...

...Deepak Mukarji wonders how healthcare became so unhealthily extortionate. Would it not be easier to eat well, live well, exercise well and then die well?

Photo Credit :

1451297579_ePZcJB_deepak-870.jpg

Ashu ate some thing at breakfast that didn’t agree with him during his morning round of golf. By lunch, he was vomiting with horrible stomach cramps. By 10 PM, he needed an intravenous glucose injection along with medication to control the problem. Or so he thought. Off he went to the leading hospital in the area
with due references. The hospital hit the ground running. They prescribed tests that would have taken three hours. The tests amazingly mostly included cardio checks. Despite writhing in discomfort, he blew a fit. He walked out and went to a smaller hospital in the area and got the treatment that his common sense told him was necessary. He was lucky.

My wife’s aunt went through the same biopsy and tests for a non-malignant tumour as she went from hospital to hospital. No doctor was willing to trust the tests done by any other hospital despite the results being exactly the same. At the end of it, she had spent four times the amount on tests than on the final small surgery. Why can’t doctors any longer make a diagnosis without these expensive and often unnecessary tests? Their predecessors did it with ease. So what changed? I am confused… New private hospitals pay doctors anywhere between Rs 50 lakh and Rs 10 crore a year — especially to their stars.

This means doctors have revenue targets to meet these high costs. Thus, the multiple lab tests for the simplest problem.

Also, have you noticed that if lab tests are done outside the hospital, these labs that always take your doctor’s name and contact details? Surely, it can’t be just to send back commissions? Or is it I am confused ….

By the way, who defines and then verifies all these numbers used for deciding lipid profiles and blood sugar levels? I am confused… if you ask doctors, the most common answer is the American Medical Association, but I’m Indian. I don’t eat burgers and hot dogs, etc. don’t lifestyles have a different bearing on your medication?

Which brings me to what pharma company salesmen and women do for a living. To ensure business growth, they need to inform doctors about how good their formulations are. Sadly, the sales business being what it is, I am convinced it doesn’t stop there. Doctors are given incentives to promote certain drugs. So drug prescriptions have an esoteric name that your chemist doesn’t stock. Why can’t doctors prescribe the base salt and then suggest brand options. There are always cheaper alternatives. But doctors wouldn’t get foreign junkets and expensive gifts if they did that, so the roller coaster of an unholy nexus between doctors-hospitals-pharma companies carries on. So who do the patients trust? I am confused …

We are now using science to defy what nature intended for us all: a great childhood, a frenetic youth, a relaxed middle age and then a comfortable slide into old age and death. I know I’m generalising.

But that’s the general idea (no pun intended). Today, we want smarter stronger kids, so we pump them with supplements. We want to work harder than donkeys on a construction site so we munch performance enhancers and our children don’t want us to die probably because its not fashionable to say they haven’t spent an arm and a leg trying to keep us alive when we probably deserve to go peacefully. All of which leads to a greedy rapacious healthcare industry that is booming. Would it not be easier to eat well, live well, exercise well and then die well? I am confused… Am I the only one?

Mukarji is an author, stage personality and management professional, and has spent over 30 years creating the space for business to grow in India for various MNC brands

(This story was published in BW | Businessworld Issue Dated 28-12-2015)


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