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“The best way to predict your future is to create it.” When Abraham Lincoln was saying these words, he used them to instil motivation, enthusiasm and new vigour in the American people. Today, many decades after and continents away, these lines seem apt for a year ahead in India.
Just when we are battling taxation rules, new legislature, capping and above all a trust deficit, I strongly believe in 2018, we as healthcare providers will understand and set the motion rolling for people to understand the importance of health and wellbeing.
In 2017, as Arunachal Pradesh has been declared ‘Open Defecation Free’ after Sikkim, I feel positive as the aura of healthcare becomes bigger. I would like to congratulate the rising citizen of the country who through unfortunate mishaps and misfortunes of pollution, deforestation and adverse impact have come around to understand the importance of wellbeing, fitness and prevention. These recent developments have helped me envisage a vision for 2018.
A more transparent healthcare system: Questioning systems helps innovation. The recent developments have made us introspect that today we need to be more transparent and open. It is also time that we start viewing the healthcare industry as a major participant of the service industry and automate it to ensure that we step closer to the patient. Our inclusions should be like Google is to your life. From prevention, detection, diagnosis, admission, rehabilitation and recovery, we need to guide the patients, support and understand them. The system needs to evolve relationships and guide the patient to wellbeing. Transparency in pricing and billing is just a small rock in the climb towards building a true ‘Patient Centered Medical Care Approach’.
Patient care and doctor expertise needs automation. Booking appointments with doctors just doesn’t suffice, neither does getting your doctor rank through search engine optimization. We need a guiding approach. What happens to the patient after he or she has consulted the doctor? Is there any one to explain the procedures and tests needed? Is there anyone to guide in recovery process? Any set of tools to avoid post surgery infection? Just as India is beaming as the IT capital of the world, we need to include healthcare in the same horizon of accountability and patient information.
A little support from the government would be appreciated: Just as we haggle our way through Goods & Services Tax (GST) and the capping last year, we would want the central government’s Union Budget 2018-19 to also help us build sustainable models of healthcare and, above all, support the players that are actually participating in bridging the gap. Any initiative in the Tier 2 and Tier 3 areas of the country should be recognized and appreciated by the government. This industry is not looking at subsidies but at inclusive growth. Just as the need to regulate it, there are stark realities of doctor, nurse, beds and infrastructure deficit.
While the government is currently focusing on capping the prices of some of the implants and stents, hopefully Budget 2018 will also see some thrust on making people fit and adopt a healthier lifestyle through provision for awareness campaigns and incentives. This will make the people fall sick much less frequently and seeking far fewer medical facilities.
Medical Insurance Penetration: Why pay out of pocket? Question arises why 80% people are not covered under the medical insurance plans. Just as the government can make billions of Indians opt for an identification card, it also has the potential to make at least 80% of the Indians get covered under robust medical health policies. The insurance coverage would benefit not just the family’s wellbeing, but will also make a difference to their economic status. We sincerely hope that the Aadhar becomes a pivotal force of ‘Sahi Aahar’ and ‘Universal Swasthya’.
Let’s work on the manpower shortage: Each year as India makes a new population landmark, we need to introspect on the aspect of fewer beds, doctors, nurses and infrastructure. Will the new National Medical Commission Bill help us in bridging the gap? Only time will tell. Until then we as healthcare providers, who run exceptionally big tertiary care centres, need to propose the inclusion of doctor training and education plans in each of our set ups to ensure that the gap of super specialists can be bridged.
We know that the coming year will come with its own set of challenges, but we hope that each obstacle shall make us wiser and stronger. May the year ahead also acknowledges the relentless contribution of doctors and healthcare professionals who have been working to uplift the healthcare standards of the country and have been successful in placing the country as the best healthcare provider for the world to see and follow.
The author is the managing director of Paras Healthcare