Boost enablers of healthcare partnership: Experts

February 5, 2020 0 By FM

The healthcare market in India is on the cusp of a revolutionary leap in terms of size, infrastructure and quality, but there are challenges that need to be addressed at the economic as well as scientific fronts, said a panel of experts from the Indian healthcare industry who participated in a discussion on ’Shaping the Future of Indian Healthcare’. Participants in the discussion, held on the occasion of Medtronic India’s 40th anniversary celebration in New Delhi, said the country’s healthcare industry can make big leaps if there is increased government spending along with strong and clear policies to enable effective public-private collaboration and the optimum use of technology.  

The private side of Indian healthcare is undoubtedly growing at the optimum level as private capital, private equity funds and global funding agencies are quite optimistic about the market, irrespective of some of the challenges that we see in the growth trajectory, and this will continue growing,” said Vishal Bali, executive chairman, Asia Healthcare Holdings and Senior Advisor, TPG Growth.

“But what the country necessarily needs for the overall growth of the sector is an equal level of interest and investment on the public side as well and this requires a much more intricate system to plan and execute an enhanced public healthcare spending,” Bali added.

At the same time, the government healthcare infrastructure that has already been built is a very critical component that helps support overall growth in Indian healthcare. Thus, it is an essential part of healthcare in this country, where the vast majority of the expenditure is out of pocket and insurance coverage is still very minuscule compared to the population.   

According to Dr Viveka Kumar, senior consultant interventional cardiologist and electrophysiologist at Max Devki Devi Hospital, New Delhi, growth in healthcare can’t be contributed entirely from one side and there needs to evolve better systems by which both private and public sectors join hands to contribute the best of both sides. For example, the government has one of the most extensive hospital infrastructure in the country and the private sector has demonstrated its strength in managing healthcare more efficiently. So, if both can come together through well-defined public-private partnerships, that is the best model for India to take the growth forward. 

Similarly, the private sector can provide the best technologies to overcome issues like lack of access to better healthcare in rural and remote areas, while the government can leverage its network of primary healthcare centres and local administration level hospitals to make the best use of these technologies to increase access to better healthcare, Dr Kumar said.

“Government schemes like Ayushman Bharat are the best examples and [they] can be enablers of this partnership. The government can use these private facilities by paying through insurance,” he added.

The key issue with the current public-private partnership in Indian healthcare is the sheer absence of equilibrium. “Today in India, 75% of healthcare investments are by the private sector and only 25% of the end-users are with them. On the other hand, only 25% of the investment is by the government and 75% end-users are on the public side. So, the end-user use is not in proportion to the investment. It is like the deposits are with one and the decisions are with the other. This is not a happy and comfortable situation. Therefore, we need to redefine the policies to accommodate such inequalities and other ground realities,” said Dr Sandip Chaterjee, director, Park Clinic, Kolkata.