Captains of healthcare have called for major changes in the existing health system and stressed the need for finding alternative ways for funding the hospitals in the country.
There is need to look for alternative ways of funding healthcare, such as by a surcharge on mobile phone bills, bring down the cost of building hospitals, develop patient management software, and establish one or two health cities with 3,000 to 5,000 beds in each metro where cutting-edge work can be done, according to Dr Devi Shetty, founder and chairman of Narayana Health.
“Healthcare is basically disease management. We should build our system from the ground up to create a new blue-print of India’s healthcare,” said Dr Naresh Trehan, CMD, Global Health (Medicity), said. The leaders were addressing a global healthcare conference recently in Delhi.
“We have over 800,000 ASHAs (Accredited Social Healthcare Activists) in India, but they are ill trained and don’t have any medical skills. Their costs are a huge burden on the exchequer and nothing gets accomplished in return. All we have to do is to upscale their skills so that they can be the eyes and ears of the healthcare system on the ground. They need to monitor hygiene and find out who in the community needs medical assistance. This will be a big help in ensuring quick diagnosis of diseases and reducing the incidence of NCDs,” Dr Trehan said.
Dr Devi Shetty pointed out that while the US has 19,000 undergraduate medical seats and 32,000 PG seats, in India it is the opposite – the country has close to 50,000 undergraduate medical seats but only 14,000 PG seats. “The low number of PG seats results in a shortage of specialists. This can have terrible consequences on the ground. For example, India has one of the highest maternal mortality rates in the world and this is unrelated to the amount of money we spend on healthcare. The reason is that we have created a regulatory structure where only a specialist can perform certain tasks, and the country simply doesn’t produce enough of these specialists,” he said.
Outlining his views on the role of technology in ensuring greater access to quality healthcare, Shivinder Mohan Singh, executive vice-chairman of Fortis Healthcare, said technology had played a vital role in healthcare in the last 30 to 40 years, whether it is diagnosis or treatment.
“A healthcare ecosystem would be created in future where different silos begin to talk to each other about patients and exchange information. Healthcare delivery is going to become more personalised in terms of tailor-made treatments for an individual,” he said.