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Dr. Niraj Uttamani

Dr. Niraj Uttamani, COO, K J Somaiya Super Speciality Hospital.

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India's Healthcare Sector : Challenges and Opportunities

India is the world’s second largest populated country. From 760 million in 1985 to 1.3 billion in 2015, the rising population demands a continuous growth and improvement in the healthcare facilities.

The Indian healthcare industry is growing at a tremendous pace and has become one of the largest sectors in terms of revenue as well as employment. Attributing to the growing incidences of lifestyle diseases and rising demand for affordable healthcare, the healthcare sector of India may witness a threefold jump to US $372 billion by 2022. However, despite the growth, the Indian healthcare industry is facing a plethora of challenges.

  • Population: India is the world’s second largest populated country. From 760 million in 1985 to 1.3 billion in 2015, the rising population demands a continuous growth and improvement in the healthcare facilities.
  • Infrastructure: The existing healthcare infrastructure of India is not sufficient to meet the needs of the rising population. There is a shortage of funds and staff in the public healthcare institutions. According to the Indian government health and family welfare statistics, the rural community healthcare centers are falling short of specialists and 63% of hospital beds belong to the private sector.
  • Low government spending: The public expenditure on health is only 1.2 % of the total health expenditure. This is extremely low when compared to the WHO recommendation of 5%.
  • Rural-urban disparity: There is a huge demand-supply gap in the rural areas which is reflected by the higher percentage of the population and a lower percentage of healthcare services in the rural areas. The primary healthcare centers (PHCs) are short of more than 3,000 doctors as a majority of healthcare professionals are located in the urban areas.
  • Insurance: The government’s contribution to insurance is very low and approx. 76% of Indians do not have health insurance.
  • Dual disease burden: Apart from the problems of maternal, infant mortality, communicable diseases etc., the lifestyle diseases such as diabetes and hypertension are on a rise.

While challenges are bound to be there, the Indian healthcare industry has innumerable opportunities to flourish in the coming years.

  • Several computer and mobile-based m-health and e-health initiatives such as Swastha Bharat mobile application, e-RaqtKosh, India fights dengue etc., launched by the ministry of health and family welfare.
  • Big data analytics for tracking patient data, treatment, prescription etc.
  • Focusing on primary care by investing in the development and growth of the PHCs and making rural service mandatory for a medical student.
  • Increase in the public health expenditure on health (2.5% recommended) under the National Health Policy 2017.
  • An effective implementation of schemes such as Rashtriya Swasthya Suraksha Yojana can increase the insurance penetration.
  • Start-ups are increasingly investing in the diversified sectors of healthcare from process automation to low-cost innovations.

There is a need for a proactive and dynamic approach to meet the rising demand for quality healthcare in India. The active collaboration of health care experts, stakeholders, and key participants can improve the quality, efficacy, and accountability of the Indian healthcare industry.

Disclaimer: The views expressed in the article above are those of the authors' and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of this publishing house



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