Medical Buyer Article: A long way to go

January 24, 2018

The Indian healthcare industry is growing at 15 percent+ annually due to increased awareness of the benefits of modern medicine, advances in diagnostics, and availability of basic healthcare in Tier-II and III cities, driven by investments in the sector by the government and the private sector. India is also unfortunately seeing an increased burden of lifestyle (non-communicable) diseases now and showing a declining trend for infectious diseases.

To tackle this, we need upgradation of primary health centers, diagnostics at the smaller towns/cities, and better medical insurance for all (universal coverage). This, along with significant investments in communication, awareness and education programs for the public to perform regular health checks, will result in a healthier India.

I also envision an India that will be known for better patient outcomes in diseases like cancer.

On the emerging trend of consolidation of medical facilities

In India, we still see a significant concentration of hospitals and healthcare providers in the major cities. But increasing investment will be driven into the Tier-II/III towns of India.

To enable rapid expansion, we see private healthcare providers or hospital networks that will acquire existing healthcare practices and hospital infrastructure in these towns. They will leverage locally available specialist expertise and supplement this with standardization of care and quality and investment in technology and research.

Healthcare is also becoming more specialized and the Indian consumer is beginning to demand the expertise and care that they deserve.

On government's success in providing healthcare to all

Prime Minister Narendra Modi recently in his speech announced that the government will take care of the medical facilities up to Rs. 1 lakh for families, which are below poverty line in times of emergency.

There are many areas that will require continued focus - improving primary healthcare in rural India, increased education and awareness of preventive health, skills upgradation programs for nurses and paramedical staff, medical education sector revamp with more practical education and upgradation of the standards there, increased availability and reduced prices for essential drugs through government incentive schemes, and insurance and medical coverage for all.

On public-private partnership

PPP is essential for bringing high-quality secondary and tertiary care from the larger cities of India into Tier-II/III towns and to the lower socio-economic strata in India.

For example, PPP in cancer care should focus on prevention, early detection and diagnostics, and treatment. This is possible by making the reimbursements attractive for the private players to expand their coverage into the under-served areas of the country.

With increased mobile and Internet penetration in the country, we can now truly deliver the promise of telemedicine in the years to come.

On expansion plans over the next couple of years

Cytecare Cancer Hospitals are establishing a network of 4-5 major hubs where comprehensive organ-site focused and personalized cancer care is delivered. Each hub will also have 4-5 sub-centers that will provide continuity of care for the patients nearer to their homes.

On planned budgetary allocation for 2016-17

For us, 2016-17 has been the year of the launch of our first hub in Bangalore and we will also implement a few sub-centers. We have invested Rs. ~75 crore in this fiscal alone, primarily in medical equipment, and will continue to see similar annual investments in the next 4-5 years.

We are excited about the newer diagnostic devices, newer technologies in nuclear medicine, interventional radiology, robotic surgeries, radiation therapy, cell-based therapies, and availability of improved healthcare information and analytics systems in India. We are deploying these for the benefit of each patient through a strong medical governance mechanism in our hospitals.