Future of Healthcare in India

Dec 14, 2016 8:45 IST 637 reads,

Completely overpopulated, with over 1.2 billion people in the country, India's healthcare department leaves a lot to be desired. Last year, a PwC analysis reported some deplorable numbers. India only has 1.3 hospital beds per 1,000 people, a significant difference from the 3.5-bed guideline defined by the World Health Organisation (WHO). Despite these numbers, a study conducted in 2014*, stated that India was one of the top three destinations for medical tourism in Asia. To understand the conflicting statistics better, let's take a look at India's healthcare industry, and understand what's really going on.

As a medical tourism destination, several people from all over the world choose to come to India for medical treatment. Some compelling reasons are:

  • Low cost of treatment
  • Quality healthcare infrastructure
  • Availability of highly-skilled doctors

On the surface, we seem to have a fairly well-developed healthcare system. However, the reality which we tend to forget is that these medical hubs are mainly concentrated in the big metropolitan cities. Smaller cities, towns and even the outskirts of the big cities do not have access to the same kind of facilities that are available in the metros. The good news, however, is that India's healthcare industry has been growing. It has become one of the country's largest sectors, and the growth is predicted to continue, with healthcare in India becoming a $ 280 billion industry by the year 2020**.

The Changes

India's healthcare sector is divided into the private sector and the public sector. Private sector hospitals are frequented more often than government hospitals, as the former provides better service to its patients. In India, 70% of the population lives in small towns, while 80% of healthcare facilities are located in the metros. The good news is these figures seem to be changing for the better.

Here are a few people and institutions that are making a difference in India's smaller towns and cities:

  • Rajat Goel and Dr Ajay Sharma: A decision by these two gentlemen to set up a single eye care facility in Rewari, Haryana in 2007 has made a world of a difference. Today, they have 28 centres across numerous small towns and cities like Rohtak, Meerut, Hissar, Jhansi and Surat.
  • Vaatsalya: India's first hospital network has decided to focus on tier-I and tier-II cities. They are bridging the gap between the small town population and access to affordable healthcare facilities by building and managing hospitals and clinics. Currently, they provide health care to numerous families through their hospitals in the cities of Gadag, Mysore, Tarikere, Pandavapura, Hubli, Hassan, Shimoga, Chikmagalaur, and Narasannapeta.
  • Glocal Healthcare: Set up by Doctor and IAS Officer turned entrepreneur, Sabahat Azim, they are involved in work similar to that of Vaatsalya. They build their own relatively small hospitals in tier-II cities and focus mainly on primary and secondary care.
  • Apollo Hospitals: A well-known healthcare provider, Apollo Hospitals, is also eyeing smaller towns as key drivers of its future growth. They have invested Rs 22 crore in a hospital in the tier-III town of Karimnagar, 162 kilometres away from Hyderabad.

The private sector is getting involved in the tier-I, tier-II and tier-III cities, and this will drive growth in India's healthcare sector. Around 80% of future investment in the industry is expected to come from the private sector. Anticipating this growth, financial institutions have also started specialised finance options for those looking to invest in the sector. By offering customised solutions to fit the needs of doctors, diagnostics centres, hospitals, and nursing homes in the country, more people will have access to great healthcare in the years to come. In a couple of years, the big cities won't be the only ones with access to excellent healthcare, and people won't have to travel from their hometowns, in search of good doctors. With the new budget allowing duty exemptions on certain medical equipment, and the customised solutions of numerous financial institutions, we can look forward to a healthier India in the coming few years.

* As reported by the Time of India

** As reported by the India Brand Equity Foundation (IBEF)

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