PPPs will help in bridging treatment gap, enhance care delivery in India

The government’s focus on digitization over the past few years has enabled enhanced delivery of healthcare in India, increasing capacity and efficiency in the sector. There has been an 85% surge in teleconsultations, and digital platforms have eased accessibility to crucial healthcare solutions, supported by the National Digital Health mission.

This has evolved the way we look at healthcare challenges, and has presented India with an opportunity to address issues at the grassroots level. The production-linked incentive (PLI) scheme and the draft paper on Medical Devices Manufacturing Policy 2022 will further promote domestic manufacturing of medical devices that will help deepen access to quality and affordable healthcare solutions. In addition, the lack of access and mobility to healthcare solutions during the pandemic also led the healthcare sector to re-engineer business models, focusing on a virtual care delivery approach. The efforts are now helping the sector tackle important healthcare challenges. Technological innovations in the medtech sector, ranging from data-driven smart devices, telemedicine services, and remote patient monitoring facilities have created easy access paths for patients beyond metro cities, including those in rural areas. Innovative approaches to health promotion and prevention are also proving to be extremely successful.

According to an industry report, India’s patient monitoring market alone is projected to register a compound annual growth rate of 6.4% by 2025, which is a testament to the growing demand for accessible healthcare solutions and intelligent devices to enable virtual care. Moreover, because of the artificial intelligence-led advancements, faster and more customized diagnostic methods, as well as clinical decision tools, are being developed to deliver hyper-personalized, evidence-based prevention and treatment approaches. Precision healthcare, remote monitoring and intelligence-based infrastructure are helping enhance human accuracy and delivering personalized treatment to improve patient insights and diagnosis, as well as provide a lifeline to critically-ill patients.

The medtech sector has massive potential to address challenges such as patient data management, privacy policy, regulatory challenges, connectivity between different healthcare settings and usability and patient experience, which in turn will enhance access to lifesaving healthcare solutions. Though government support through policy and expenditure plays a crucial role in building infrastructure and systems, a healthy partnership between key stakeholders of the healthcare ecosystem is instrumental in smooth sailing towards the goal.

The government has extended support for local manufacturing of medical equipment with an aim to increase healthcare expenditure to 2.5% of gross domestic product by 2025. The Atmanirbhar Bharat initiative provides further impetus to the industry to develop and enhance healthcare infrastructure with continued technological upgradation. Public-private partnerships (PPPs) will help increase access to healthcare and improve patient outcomes. PPPs bring together the expertise and finances of the private sector with the access and subsidies of the public sector. It can bring in resources the government needs for its healthcare goals, as well as create a sustainable long-term model. The need for PPPs is further underlined considering the layout of medical infrastructure in India. According to a report by Niti Aayog, 60% of medical infrastructure is densely populated across metropolitan cities. Addressing this, private hospital chains are increasingly expanding beyond the metros to tier-2 and -3 cities. Private players are also seeking accreditation and developing new healthcare models at an increasing rate. PPPs will also help address the shortage of skilled workers by establishing programmes to upskill the health workforce with the ability to adapt to technological advancements.

The onset of AI and analytics-enabled precision healthcare has opened avenues for personalized self-management of health, empowering patients to take healthcare into their own hands. Self-care advancements will also boost the nation’s productivity. To capitalize on the potential of India’s young population, which will make up a majority of the future workforce, consumer health options must be widely available and easily adopted. That said, while India is on the path towards a holistic, self-sufficient health ecosystem, there is huge opportunity to improve the care continuum and take healthcare to the last citizen. India’s ‘healthcare for all’ goal can be achieved with the help of a robust ecosystem backed by innovation, government support, and collaborative effort.

Dr. Shravan Subramanyam is managing director of Wipro GE Healthcare.

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