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    Future of Healthcare Delivery – Get it from Anywhere, Anytime

    Published on September 18, 2021

    CII’s 17th India Innovation Summit 2021

    Bengaluru: The day 3 of CII’s 17th India Innovation Summit 2021 organised a panel discussion on “Healthcare challenges in a post-pandemic India” where the panelist deliberated extensively on the key challenges and opportunities faced by the healthcare sector in the country. Improving primary healthcare, embracing technology, focusing on quality, increase spending on healthcare infrastructure, making healthcare affordable and accessible to all, are some of the points extensively debated by panelists.

    Delivering the keynote address, Ms. Shobana Kamineni, Executive Vice Chairperson, Apollo Hospitals said that the pandemic has taught us to do more with less. Taking an example from her business she said that on a regular day there will be about 500,000 people visiting Apollo’s 45000 pharmacies across the country but during the initial days of the pandemic the footfalls rose to 700,000 suddenly and with only 50% of the workforce they managed to serve all their customers because of cloud technologies they adopted earlier. Technology is something that our country is ramping up and adopting technologies only will help in saving lives during a pandemic. Our country is looking at the adoption of more and more technology as the the solution to challenges faced in the healthcare sector.

    Ms. Kamineni believes that India has a better healthcare delivery system when compared to many other countries in the world and we managed the second wave quite well after the initial hiccups. Creating strong medical infrastructure and enhancing the healthcare delivery system should be the top priority, we as a country will never have a good patient-bed ratio. We need to rewrite those numbers and healthcare does not need the conventional numbers of patent-bed ratio. Some cities in the country have more beds than it requires but this is not the case with all the cities and towns in the country. Modern-day technology is allowing us to diagnose a patient remotely. The patent in a rural area doesn’t have to travel to a city for diagnosis. The Indian healthcare sector has evolved to adopt technology and has taken healthcare delivery to another level during the pandemic.

    Dr. Alexander Thomas, President of, Association of Healthcare Providers India (AHPI) said that healthcare and the economy are correlated, so it is important that while containing the pandemic we also focus on the economy. A recent study said that 240 million Indians have gone into below the poverty line as a result of Covid. So, we need to focus on reviving the economy while containing the pandemic. He called on the government to increase healthcare spending so that the healthcare infrastructure can be improved.

    Stating that in government hospitals we have a shortage of around 80% of specialists, Dr. Alexander Thomas said that there is a huge shortage of medical professionals in the country. There is around 50% shortage of nurses in the country. He called on the government to add more seats for healthcare courses.

    He suggested that the government should take initiative to open more wellness clinics in every nook and corner of the country, focus on clean drinking water and sanitation. Another point which Dr. Thomas stressed on was the uses of Ayush medicines as it is very cost-effective and can be used in wellness and as well as to treat diseases. He said that there is a need to sensitize allopathic doctors on the use of Ayush.

    Improving quality of healthcare delivery in the public sector, bringing in accountability and increase in ratio of private to public beds are some of the other suggestions made by Dr. Thomas for the future.

    Mr. Amit Mohan, Chief Operating Officer, GE Healthcare India, and South Asia Region said that the disparity in healthcare delivery came to the forefront during the pandemic. There is a huge gap to fill in India’s healthcare delivery system. He said that we need to make health a priority and don’t let a virus rule our lives. We need to make healthcare both accessible and affordable. All the stakeholders in the healthcare value chain should come forward to help build an affordable healthcare infrastructure for the well-being of all.

    During his opening remarks Mr. Ajay Nanavati, Chairman, Quantum Advisors said that more than the challenges we should look at the opportunities in healthcare in a post-pandemic world.  We all know the statistics on India’s rankings on various healthcare indices like hospital beds, healthcare spending as a percentage of GDP, patient-doctor ratio, etc. When it comes to Indian healthcare the often-used terms are availability, affordability, and accessibility. When compared to developed countries, the challenges faced by India are unique. According to him, the key drivers for the Indian healthcare sector will be the significant technological advances we are seeing in digital health-tech or med-tech.