Most nations are now better equipped to handle healthcare emergencies, compared to their pre-COVID standards. The World Bank recognised the COVID-19 crisis as a “once in a generation” chance to make transformational changes in health systems. And it recognised the importance of primary healthcare in this regard. It advocates the three-pronged approach toward the reimagining of primary healthcare –
If implemented effectively, this can strengthen the first line of defense in the healthcare sector and resolve future pandemics more efficiently. However, along with primary healthcare, specialized healthcare services, too, are important to maintain the good health of the population. Government initiatives and the private sector both have a role to play in this regard.
The government on its part has been busy bringing more inclusiveness to public healthcare in India. Successive governments have earmarked budget funds for healthcare-related expenditures, and the present government is no exception. In the first Union Budget after the coronavirus outbreak, there was a 137% hike in the governmentʼs healthcare funding. It included allocations in the National Health Mission, the Ayushman Bharat Yojana, Pradhan Mantri Swasthya Suraksha Yojana, the AYUSH ministry, centrally sponsored schemes and establishment expenditures.
Apart from these conventional efforts, we have also seen innovative measures by the government to revolutionize healthcare. Guidelines were issued towards the recognition of telemedicine as a legal practice, with registered medical practitioners set to be allowed to practice telemedicine. The Ministry of Health and Family Welfare has worked towards it, with the aid of the Niti Aayog. Along with telemedicine, information and services like health records, health IDs, e-pharmacy services, Digi-doctor services are being bundled together under the National Health Mission.
The efforts of the government continue, but private players are crucial in providing healthcare services in India. Nearly 60% of inpatient care and service in India is provided by the private healthcare sector. The involvement of the private sector in handling COVID-19 was for all to see. The lower medical costs along with the world-class quality on offer mean that India also features prominently as a healthcare tourism destination. Patients from the US and Western Europe have recognised the quality service provided by the Indian healthcare industry at affordable costs. The role of private players is crucial in this regard too.
Private healthcare is also instrumental in addressing the medical needs in Tier-II and Tier-III cities. Hospital chains have extended to smaller towns and cities through smaller clinics and tie-ups with local reputed doctors. Their role in increasing the number of hospital beds per thousand population will be paramount in the years to come.
How the healthcare sector transforms in the days ahead will be keenly watched by all. With digitisation influencing almost every aspect of our lives, its role in medical services is set to evolve. Perhaps technology will help us to locate hospital bed availability or oxygen cylinder availability with more ease. Digital assistants may be used to replace attendants, while robotic process automation may be used to replicate repetitive manual efforts.
We have discussed how the government seeks to leverage digitisation through the likes of telemedicine. Virtual checkups and AI-driven diagnosis support may be expected in the future as well. At a simpler level, patient mapping and online clinical assistance can be quick wins as healthcare transforms into a health-tech avatar.
Over the years, Moneyedge has been closely associated with the financial growth of its valued clients. Moneyedge has managed financial portfolios and provided services around investments, loans and insurance. So far, health insurance-related consulting has kept Moneyedge abreast of the wellness needs of its clients. However, it has been closely monitoring the healthcare transformation in India in recent times. As a socially responsible organization, Moneyedge understands the importance of quality and affordable healthcare. It, therefore, considers the healthcare sector as an ideal way of serving its existing and future clientele in a more involved manner.
In the days ahead, Moneyedge plans to unveil its roadmap in the healthcare sector. So far, the initial efforts have shown encouraging signs that Moneyedge can make a difference in healthcare. We are confident of unveiling further developments in this initiative in the future, as and when they unfold.