Headline : Five actions to turbocharge India’s public healthcare Editorial 7th Apr’19 IndianExpress
India’s rising population has great health services need:
- India has the world’s second largest population which went from 760 million in 1985 and doubled in size by 2015.
- This rapid rise in population has not seen an appropriate increase in health services for the population.
But Budgetary allocation for health insufficient:
- Budgetary allocation to public health is only 1.2 per cent of the total health expenditure which is far lower than the WHO recommendation of 5 per cent.
- This lack of funds hits public healthcare infrastructure, lack of experienced medical staff to manage the burgeoning population.
- Government statistics show that community healthcare centres are falling short of specialists and 63 per cent of hospital beds belong to private sector.
- This gap is sharper when you look at the rural sector which has a higher percentage of the population and are financially weaker.
Technology and Innovation to tackle healthcare challenges:
- India is experiencing a fast-paced growth on the back of technological disruption and innovative thinking.
- This provides an opportunity to bring the same to solve the public healthcare challenge.
Five urgent actions that can be taken on healthcare:
1. Tracking health outcomes
- Tracking the healthcare outcomes on a real-time basis will allow for a clearer picture for the authorities to deploy funds and resources in the most appropriate manner.
- Judging the health care providers performance on outcomes would introduce a clear target that rewards innovation.
- To ensure this, the policy makers should introduce a standardized collection and reporting methodology.
2. Maintaining digital health records
- India needs a universal system of tracking health records. The system would contain every patient’s complete medical history and would be available to any healthcare provider while still ensuring the privacy and security of the patient information.
- Budgetary allocation while the data collected can also be leveraged to understand the efficacy of the processes and protocols being implemented.
- The larger analysis of this data can help keep a track of healthcare trends, track disease, understand policy impact and anticipate demand for drugs / care.
- This information would be vital to better divert funds to specific resources that are required at the point in time.
3. Government health insurance
- Most people are vulnerable to financial distress related to critical medical procedures and require the national health insurance system for economically viable health coverage.
- Through the use of artificial intelligence and the use of digital health, records actuaries (like insurance analysts) would be able to detect any claim anomalies to prevent fraud.
4. Leveraging a connected India
- Over 60 per cent of the population live in rural areas in India that are in remote locations without easy access to the primary health centres.
- These people avoid treatment for minor injuries and ailments that exacerbate due to non-treatment or incorrect home remedies.
- Mobility and digital technology platforms have the potential of bridging this deficit by allowing doctors to remotely treat patients in under-resourced areas efficiently and economically.
5. Mobile resources for last mile delivery
- Healthcare service professionals who are delivering at the last mile must be empowered with mobile-enabled resources to provide lifesaving care to the doorstep of those living in remote areas.
- These resources can enable mobile diagnostics, improve collection of data and real-time consultation with doctors that are available through Telemedicine solutions.
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