Good times ahead for healthcare consultants in every sphere, be it new projects or existing. As per various studies including a report by IDFC, and Mc Kinsey, Indian Healthcare industry will be worth $200 billion in the next five years.
Growing population, increasing affordability, comparative cheaper treatment costs as opposed to the west and medical tourism thereof, increased health insurance penetration and government opening up its arms to PPP and will be the key factors for the future of healthcare in India.
According to recent studies conducted, the customer’s (patient) aspirations are fast changing. Customers are growing more aware of their health needs, demand quick response, less waiting times, and above all – demand nearness of the healthcare unit to them. Customers now demand better quality care; they do not want to travel much as in earlier days, and they also don’t bother about the cost factors. If you notice, the billing and pricing though important, is not a very high priority as insurance sector is making a strong reach (to the tune of 40 per cent among patients visiting an urban hospital).
If this is the window to the future of healthcare, then it leaves immense opportunity for existing hospitals across the country to revamp and re-organise in order to woo back their immediate local drainage population as the competition would heat up soon. The patients would have a lot to choose from, now being insured.
India has a deficit of approximately 30 lakhs beds as per the WHO recommendation of four beds per 1000 population, as per the records of 2012. Considering even a 250 bedded hospital on an average, the country would need 12000 hospitals in the near future. As almost 80 per cent of this would be fulfilled by the private players, a huge rise in IPO’s and premium commanding players in the arena would flutter bringing in interesting times for the healthcare industry.
Recent spurt in Public Private Partnership projects (PPP) and thrust on quality by the government sector and its demand on NABH and ISO, a lot of consultancy business is abuzz with the projects galore in the accreditation and QMS field. With CGHS making NABH mandatory for care and hospitalisation cost reimbursements, there is hectic activity seen in hundreds of hospitals waking up to the long due need for quality healthcare and applying for the coveted quality mark. The trend is on a steep rise, and it is just a matter of time when the government launches patient awareness on NABH quality in full swing. This would make the patient demand at least an ISO QMS certified hospital if not NABH.
The most important challenge the fast-expanding domestic healthcare industry facing is the severe shortage of manpower. As per ministry of health, there is a shortage of approximately half a million doctors, a million nurses and the deficit needs to be filled in the next five years. Such shortage will lead to exponential salary hike demands, and further lead to high patient care costs.
With organised sector being the preferred choice now, there will be a huge demand even for the skilled and quailed health administrators to run the show. Considering one skilled and quailed administrator is required for every 50 employees, there would be thousands of such healthcare professionals would be required in the near future.
The convergence of healthcare with upcoming technologies such as cloud computing and wireless technologies will play a key role in improving accessibility and meeting the challenge of manpower shortage. The coming years are expected to witness greater deployment of tools such as telemedicine, teleradiology, hospital information systems (HIS)/hospital management information systems (HMIS), online or electronic medical records (EMR), etc.
The healthcare sector is poised to embrace cloud computing in a big way in the coming decade. Cost-effective cloud-based solutions are expected to drive increased adoption of HMIS and EMRs. The various benefits that can be derived, such as easy accessibility irrespective of geographical location, fewer errors, and fast response in times of emergencies, patient convenience, among others, will drive increased adoption.
(Read the full article in the March issue of Safety Messenger Magazine 2016)