There have been significant improvements in India’s post-independence era healthcare services; but there is still a long way to go before the country can provide affordable and timely healthcare to all its citizens.
Despite ranking 145 among 195 countries in terms of quality and accessibility of healthcare, India is slowly making progress. Due to a rise in incomes as well as health awareness, there has been a huge demand for affordable and effective healthcare services. As private hospitals are mushrooming across the country, India’s healthcare is growing, both in terms of revenue and employment. According to a recent report from the India Brand Equity Foundation, the healthcare is expected to be a $372 billion industry by 2022.
Watch : India’s Healthcare Sector
So before analyzing India’s healthcare setup in detail, let us first try to understand its key sectors
4 Key Sectors Of The Healthcare Industry
In general, the healthcare sector is divided into four fields on the basis of products and the services they offer. As per a detailed analysis, the 4 domains of the healthcare industry are:
- Health care services and facilities: Hospitals and clinics play a very important role as the lifeline in the healthcare industry. This segment includes setups that offer medical aid and are not just restricted to hospitals and clinics. It also includes blood and organ banks, nursing care facilities, ambulance services, diagnostic laboratories, senior care facilities etc. This segment is also comprised of doctors, surgeons, nurses, medical practitioners, nutritionists and dietitians, physical therapists and other alternative healthcare providers.
- Manufacturer of medical devices and equipment: What use are hospitals without proper machines and medical equipment? Companies that supply the medical equipment and devices fall under this category. Keeping abreast of the latest technology and incorporating it in building and procuring effective equipment, this segment ensures smooth operations and timely delivery of the equipment and tools.
- Medical insurance and medical services: This sub-sector is comprised of companies that provide medical insurance and other different types of services to patients. It also includes managed care, which basically means techniques that will reduce the price of healthcare benefits.
- Pharmaceuticals and related companies: The report says that this sector comprises of companies that develop, manufacture and market medicines and drugs that are licensed to be used.
Now that we have a fair understanding about the various sectors, let us study the weaknesses of the healthcare industry in India and how it can be improved:
Healthcare in India: Challenges and opportunities
Despite boasting some of the best hospitals in the world and becoming the hub for medical tourism, India’s healthcare industry is still far behind other countries. The reasons are overpopulation, lack of infrastructure, a huge divide between urban and rural India, lack of investment in healthcare facilities and research, a shortage of medical personnel and proper insurance. These challenges are of such a magnitude that they cannot be resolved by the government alone. The time is right to work on these challenges by fostering a public-private partnership.
Watch: India- The Medical Tourism Hub
Deepak Sahni, Founder and CEO of Healthians, offered insights into the current healthcare scenario of India:
“India’s healthcare system needs major reforms to become more accessible, innovative, tech-enabled and affordable. While we do have world-class talent and expertise, it is highly niche – catering to a very small demographic. The need of the hour is to make it make it accessible to a larger audience. Unlike developed nations, a large chunk of healthcare expenditure is private. The government needs to step up its contribution and work rapidly in developing a robust healthcare system, especially in rural areas where even the most basic facilities are scarce.”Deepak Sahni, Founder and CEO, Healthians
The Road Ahead
The COVID-19 pandemic has shown us the path ahead and highlighted the significance of using technology and innovation to ramp up the healthcare system. We need to focus on expanding healthcare infrastructure, making it more accessible and affordable for everyone, and promoting a culture of innovation and collaboration. We also need to utilise technology, big data and artificial intelligence to create an advanced and resilient healthcare system.
We also need to be better prepared for future pandemics and emergencies. “A strong foundation for a self-reliant and healthy India lies in Make in India, Innovate in India and Collaborate in India, writes Sharad Tyagi, President, Organisation of Pharmaceutical Producers of India, in an editorial in The Hindu.