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India's Great Healthcare Challenge, Also an Opportunity

India’s healthcare sector has been a cause for debate for many years. One can choose to look at this sector in two different ways, in a negative way and pick out all the faults or all that is lacking in this sector or secondly to find out solutions for all the problems.

India’s healthcare is divided into two: public and private. Public healthcare sector consists of primary and community healthcare centers while the private healthcare sector can be found in more urban areas of India in the form of secondary, tertiary and quaternary care.

To begin to understand what challenges and opportunities the Indian healthcare sector face is a mammoth task. Let us start the task by reading through some statistics.

Statistics of Indian Healthcare Industry

  • India’s current population is 1.36 billion. The sex ratio in rural areas has increased from 946 to 949 and in urban areas from 900 to 929 as of 2011’s census report.
  • Birth rate, death rate and the rate of natural growth have witnessed a declining trend. The birth rate has fallen from 25.8 in 2000 to 20.4 in 2016.
  • Fertility rates are declining in both rural and urban areas.
  • The overall literacy rate has witnessed an increase which is at 73%. If this figure is to be divided based on rural and urban areas then, the rural literacy rate is at 67.8% and urban at 84.1%.
  • The maternal mortality rate has decreased by 11 points from 2010 to 2013.

Challenges

Indian healthcare is riddled with challenges. Some of the more obvious reasons for the rise in such challenges are population, infrastructure, lack of investment, etc. To list all challenges is impossible but some of the major challenges India's faces are:

  • Population: India has the second-largest population in the world. Population statistics say the current population of India is at 1.36 billion as of July 2019. In comparison, in the year 1985, the population stood at 760 million. In a gap of 34 years, the population of India has risen by 450 million. India is bursting at its seams but the rate of growth of population is not the same as the rate of growth of the health care sector.
  • Infrastructure: The infrastructure offered by India’s healthcare sector is not enough for the masses. Infrastructure is underfinanced and often short-staffed. The doctor to patient ratio is at a mind-boggling 1:1700. As compared to the highest populated country in the world, China, India fares poorly in this aspect. There is a severe and marked shortage of doctors and specialists in rural health centers. Majority of India lives in rural India, this figure makes it difficult for proper healthcare to reach everyone.
  • Insurance: India's contribution to the per capita healthcare expenditure is extremely low. The government of India contributes only 32% to insurance which is very less as compared to UK's 83.5% contribution to insurance. Over 76% of Indians do not have health insurance plan which is why people often end up paying for health expenses from their own pockets. Healthcare expenses are not affordable and can end up burning a hole in savings
  • Rural-Urban Disparity: India’s rural population holds 70% of the total population of India but the healthcare statistics do not match up to this number. Primary healthcare centers are lacking over 3,000 doctors. In the last 10 years, this shortage has gone by 200%. Good doctors and experts can be found in urban areas but a person from a rural area often cannot afford to come to an urban area for treatment. The demand and supply gap for doctors and healthcare professionals in rural areas is huge.
  • Malpractices: When there is a huge shortage of healthcare professionals and there is a large population to treat, malpractices arise. There have been cases where counterfeit medicines have been produced and sold to unsuspecting individuals. The large red tape regarding admissions and exploitation of the uneducated are also leading factors in this aspect. There are no proper regulations in place to ensure such malpractices do not occur.

Opportunities

Amidst all the chatter of what is wrong with the healthcare sector in India, many good things have been done. The Indian government has been working tirelessly to provide quality healthcare to all while trying to incorporate the very latest in technology. Some of the major opportunities are:

  • Use of data analytics: Big data and data analytics are still at their infancy in India. If properly used in the healthcare sector, they will make tracking patient data and understanding what is the problem and what needs to be done will be easier. Hospitals will be able to treat patients more holistically. Personalized healthcare treatments will become a possibility thus enhancing better health outcomes.
  • Spreading awareness: Awareness of some commonplace diseases like hypertension needs to be spread. If one has more information about what diseases they are facing, curing it will become easier. Similarly spreading information about yoga and exercising should be made aware.
  • Investments in the private sector: With the rise in use of information technology and big data in healthcare, attention needs to be paid to private investments and startups. Startups need to be encouraged to invest more in the healthcare sector. The right investments will lead to low-cost innovations and automation of processes. Investments also need to make in medical colleges to encourage more and more students to study medicine and contribute to the workforce.
  • National health programs: Health programs launched by the government have been helping immensely in tackling certain diseases over the last couple of decades. For example, the number of malaria-related deaths has fallen to 0.01 deaths per lakh population in the year 2016. India aims to be malaria-free by the year 2027. Such successful health programs, if launched for other communicable diseases, will bring success as well.
  • Focus on primary health care: India has slowly shifted the focus of their health care from secondary and tertiary to the primary. Rightfully so as primary healthcare is important for the more rural population of India. Doctors must be encouraged to work in these sectors by giving them incentives. Having the right doctor will help many.

Max Bupa Network Hospital

Contributing to the healthcare sector to bring better healthcare for all is Max Bupa Network Hospitals. It is a joint venture between Max India Ltd and Bupa, a UK based healthcare expert.

Max Bupa provides health insurance and also has its network of hospitals throughout India. Max Bupa Network Hospitals provide cashless hospitalization to all their insured customers which mean that anyone of their insurance holders can visit a Bupa network hospital and they can get treatment without paying any expenses. All expenses are paid off by the insurance provider directly to the hospital.

Max Bupa has more than 3,500 hospitals in its Bupa network hospitals, all of which provide quality healthcare and treatment to all. Max Bupa network hospitals aim not only providing insurance but to also building lifelong relationships with their customers

Max Bupa provides three main types of insurance plans: individual, couple, nuclear family and extended family insurance plans.

All Max Bupa network hospital insurance plans cover costs of treatment, pre and post hospitalization charges, hospital room charges and much more.

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