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Today Universal Health Coverage Is A National Need: Dr Soham D Bhaduri, Editor-in-Chief, 'The Indian Practitioner'

Various stalwarts of the healthcare industry gathered in New Delhi to discuss the various aspects of the healthcare industry and healthcare provision, and to bring together various stakeholders and decision-makers of the Ayushman Bharat scheme

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At the Ayushman Bharat Healthcare Summit organized by BW Businessworld and India Virtual Hospital, various stalwarts of the healthcare industry gathered in New Delhi to discuss the various aspects of the healthcare industry and healthcare provision, and to bring together various stakeholders and decision-makers of the Ayushman Bharat scheme. At the event, there was a session on 'Universal Health Coverage: A New Era in Healthcare? And Technology Integration: Key to Success', moderated by Dr Sanjeev Bagai, Vice Chairman and Director, Manipal Hospital Dwarka.

"We are 1.3 billion population, we are adding 28 million newborns every year. We have 2% of land capital but carry of 22% of the disease burden. We are short of hospital and nurses. We are 20 lakh beds short, to cover the deficit as it currently stands. We need to penetrate into the interiors of India and we need to strengthen our primary healthcare. In every adversity, there is an opportunity and the Ayushman Bharat is one such opportunity which can be a great threshold and turning point for the healthcare fraternity. Universal healthcare coverage starts from basic primary, secondary and tertiary healthcare, and it looks at preventive and diagnostic healthcare. No other country can get out as much critical data as India. We need EMR, which is electronic medical records in healthcare institutions", said Bagai.

"The Ayushman Bharat scheme is going to be a key focus area for the government and technology plays a very critical role. If we cannot accumulate and use information properly, we will not be able to help the population. If the healthcare has to reach far and wide it has to be affordable and there needs to be technology. The technology is mainly imported and try to use it. The affordability to the patient is quite challenging and hence we need to have technology developed and manufactured in India. Point of care devices is very critical, which are easy to use and develop in India. We have the competency but not the infrastructure. When the workers go to look at the wellness of the people, the competence and skill level of the workers is very important. Make in India is very important for the indigenous development of technology to make it more affordable, cheaper and more accessible", said Dr P Siva Kumar, Chief Strategy Officer, Trivitron.

Dr Soham D Bhaduri, Editor-in-Chief, 'The Indian Practitioner', said, "We need to talk about why we are talking about universal health coverage in the first place. We are drifting towards a time where healthcare is seen as a need more than a right. Today universal health coverage is a national need. Primary healthcare is the most flamboyant and fashionable term since the 1980's. I have seen up and close what primary healthcare is in this country and the gap between demand and supply is too wide. Primary healthcare is not only necessary for universal healthcare coverage but the primary functioning of the Ayushman Bharat Scheme. If you look at the utilization rate of primary, secondary or tertiary healthcare, it's the same mostly, but the difference exists between secondary and tertiary care. A robust primary healthcare system must be in place. A reduction in pocket expenses in health will need a strong primary healthcare system".

"What is different today and what are the challenges with respect to universal health coverage, and what is happening globally and what can be the solutions for the country, is what we are going to discuss today. Ayushman Bharat reflects the mission and it has been reflected on the highest level. What is going to happen in the near future will determine the course. The extent of insurance coverage has increased. Now there is a greater potential for leveraging the private sector because the scope has increased. For it to be truly universal, there should be sustained funding and more human resources. There should be greater portability, and I hope the beneficiary enrolment also works. Ayushman Bharat is an opportunity to improve earning through ethical means and economies of scale and for the private sector to participate.", said Dr Neeraj Sethi, Former Senior Advisor (Health), Planning Commission of India.

Partha Dey, Healthcare Leader and SME, IBM India, said, "Artificial intelligence is a reality in life. It is now part of our lives and we are using it and healthcare institutions are not an exception to it. Artificial intelligence is mainly used as augmented intelligence which is being used by healthcare deliverers. They are now using the information to treat patients. All the information that needs to be known is available so there is better treatment of patients. We need to have electronic medical records available for the people, to help in the decision-making process. We need to adopt electronic medical records in our life. Artificial intelligence would be made more helpful then. Digitally integrated healthcare platform for running Ayushman Bharat is the need of the hour, for trust and transparency, and I urge the authorities to have a digital platform to run it for improving quality and tracking data".

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