[Answered]There is potential for private care providers and start-ups to be partners in improving India’s healthcare system. Comment.

Demand of the question

Introduction. Contextual introduction.

Body. Discuss why private care providers and start-ups are important for India’s healthcare system?

Conclusion. Way forward.

The healthcare delivery and services landscape in India has evolved significantly over the years. However, India’s healthcare system suffers from various issues like high costs, inconsistent quality, inaccessibility to timely care etc. With the launch of Ayushman Bharat, India is aiming to remove these issues and provide healthcare to all. However, this vision can be achieved only with collaborative and outcome-based healthcare delivery both in public and private healthcare facilities.

Why are private care providers and start-ups important for India’s healthcare system?

  1. Penetration: Data from the National Family Health Survey (NFHS) report that the private medical sector remains the primary source of health care for the majority of households in urban (70%) as well as rural areas (63%). With such a penetration of private care and by promoting healthcare entrepreneurs, India can make its healthcare more efficient and accessible.
  2. Poor public healthcare: Quality of public healthcare is low. There are often long waiting times in public hospitals. People prefer better healthcare services in which the private sector can emerge as a winner provided affordable costs.
  3. Affordability: The private health sector is one of the fastest growing areas of the Indian economy. However, due to the fragmentation, for patients, it can be challenging to locate the appropriate healthcare within their budget. Start-ups in digital healthcare and eHealth can potentially play an important role in making healthcare in India more accessible and more affordable.
  4. Accessibility: Another critical issue faced by Indian citizens is accessibility. Here, digital technology can help. For example, the company Practo makes it easy for patients to find medical specialists, compare reviews by patients, and book appointments online or using a mobile app.
  5. Availability: In rural areas, healthcare service is mostly unavailable. Quacks are the only available option for some regions in India. Training and mainstreaming them would help Indian healthcare.
  6. Investment: The Indian healthcare system faces enormous challenges due to the lack of funding for preventive health care, training of healthcare professionals and investment in healthcare infrastructure, especially in rural areas and the weaker states. Startups can alleviate these problems.

Measures to support private care providers and start-ups:

  1. Funding: Most of the start-ups find it difficult to get funds. Startups need to be well funded. For this, government efforts of start-up India is important. Further efforts must be made to provide them credit easily.
  2. Easing regulations: Regulations in India are a burden due to complexity. The development of private healthcare and startups would be facilitated by easing the rules. There are no specific regulations for digitising medical care. Therefore, it is important to set specific rules with clear provisions.
  3. Training quacks: Quack training can help in making rural healthcare affordable and accessible. Focus must be on regulating quacks industry.
  4. Incentives: Health-care providers and clinicians, given limited bandwidth, often lack the incentives, operational capacity, and frameworks necessary to consider and adopt innovations. This leads to limited traction for start-ups promoting innovative solutions. They must be incentivised with proper tax soaps.

Some shortcomings of the private model of healthcare:

  1. Inequalities: Private health care facilities give priorities to those who have money to pay, unlike public hospitals which offer equal treatment regardless of whether you have the money or not.
  2. Cost of treatment: The cost of treatment in private is very high. The cost of private health care coverage is high compared to seeking health care services from public hospitals.
  3. Limited availability: Private healthcare facilities have limited penetration. Many rural regions lack hospitals and private practitioners choose to work in urban areas.
  4. Discrimination: Private healthcare hospitals tend to discriminate against patients based on their background. Many doctors refuse to treat patients simply based on their social status.

Through Ayushman Bharat, India has the unique opportunity to develop a robust ecosystem where hospitals actively engage with health-care start-ups by providing access to testbeds, communicating their needs effectively and adopting promising innovations. Start-ups can be effective collaborators for the most pressing health-care delivery challenges faced by hospitals, as opposed to being mere suppliers of technology or services.

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