Rajendra Pratap Gupta has devoted himself to creating a movement that leads to better health awareness amongst the masses. He is recognised amongst the 15 smartest thinkers in the world, and nominated to the World Economic Forumâs Global Agenda council. Currently he serves as the President of Disease Management Association of India. He was recently conferred as the âGlobal Healthcare Leader of the Yearâ award by the Sheriff of Los Angeles, Lee Baca, and nominated to the Advisory Group / Technical resource group of Union Ministry of Health & Family Welfare , Government of India
Way back in 1995, my mother (she was a class I government employee) was suffering from T4 stage breast cancer. She
was the sole earner for the family and I was pursuing my graduation aiming to be an IAS. Suddenly the doctor who was
treating my mother informed me that, my mother would last for another six months and the treatment was really expensive. Since my mother was the only earning member and was on bed, we had to find ways to earn and treat her, so I decided to get into job.
I am in healthcare by default and not by design. I applied in more than 70 companies and was finally selected by IMS Health as a research officer (lowest level job in the field cadre), but I was blessed with really good bosses, this further encouraged me to rise in the corporate world and in the 7th year of my job I was serving as COO of a MNC retail pharmacy chain. I spent the first 6 years in healthcare market research & consulting and worked for IMS Health & AC Nielsen – ORG MARG and launched new healthcare products and turned around Nepal operations for IMS.
Later head Medicine Shoppe Inc âIndia, as Chief Operating Officer and Member of the board for five years, driving
it to become the most successful pharmacy chain in a short span of time.
After that I was in the core team of Reliance ADA group driving multiple initiatives in Health from retail, distribution to disease management. It has been quite an exciting time for me. For the past five years, I have been advising large listed corporations on healthcare and retail, and have been a coarchitect of the BOP healthcare model for one of the largest FMCG companies in the world. Besides, I had the unique opportunity to advice the governments across UAE and India on healthcare policy formation and implementation.
On Indian healthcare
We are in the perfect situation when it comes to healthcare. It is a challenge to provide good healthcare to a nation of over 1.21 billion, but we can draw important lessons from USA and Europe. If we donât become âpopulistâ in driving our healthcare system, we would have lead the world by reinventing healthcare financing and delivery, and set an example for the world to follow or else our economy will suffer terribly due to wrong healthcarepolicies. We need to be careful about certain things, but we also need to act fast. The right time is NOW.
|I am in healthcare by default and not by design. I applied in more than 70 companies and was finally selected by IMS Health as a research officer, but was blessed and in the 7th year of my job I was servingÂ as the COO of a retail pharmacy chain|
We need to ensure that we donât makeÂ healthcare free for all, as this is a sure shot formula for failure. Quality healthcare
can only come when people are paying for the services that they get. We need to focus on leveraging technology for healthcare, set the right standards and treatment protocols and guidelines, focus on human resource development,
invest in rural health and have provision for sharing the healthcare expenses between centre and states. Above all, we
need to move into asset light healthcare models, where the focus is on point of care diagnostics and mHealth.
Public hospitals still continue to be the first choice for 75 percent of the population which cannot afford âcorporatised healthcareâ. The fact is that the public hospitals still have some of the best doctors. Government must provide these public hospitals with the latest of technology, training and work environment. For some non-core departments at government hospitals, there can be PPP models. There is a lot that can be done.
The government has to move from
being a payer, provider and regulator of care to being a part payer and a regulator (except for the BPL population).
Over the past 60 years, government continued to be a provider, payer and a regulator and the healthcare delivery system has failed miserably. Time has come to re-look at the role that the government plays in healthcare and the way it looks at the private sector.
My thoughts on healthcare model
I was an active team member of the core PPP committee on healthcare that wrote the PPP blue print, and that report was accepted by the planning commission. But with the current mindset of the government PPPs would never work. Citing an example; on 24th August 2011, the Union Health Minister made a publicÂ announcement that the ministry would screen 200 million people for diabetes by March 2012, and the fact is that only 56 lakh people were screened!
|We need to focus on leveraging technology for healthcare, set the right standards, treatment protocols and guidelines. We must also focus on human resource development while investing in rural health.|
Imagine if the government gave out 10-15 percent of the money allocated for mass screenings to private sector and evaluated the outcomes? For sure, we would not have such aÂ shameful failure! Time has come when the government must accept a fact that it has failed to deliver basic healthcare for more than six decades, and if private sector can deliver, let them make profits as long as they deliver care within the
agreed framework . When the bureaucrats and ministers need bribe to allot contracts in the government, why can
the industry not earn profits in a transparent manner by delivering healthcare in an ethical manner? It is time to get
realistic and remove the taboo from the word âProfitâ then only PPPs can work.
Up, close & personal
I have been active in the healthcare space for nearly two decades, and in 2007, I was delivering a lecture in the US, when the CEO of a healthcare organisation came forward and asked me to form an organisation that was just dedicated to healthcare in India. After coming back to India I had discussions on the India healthcare and I felt that there was a huge gap in the thought leadership and thus DMAI – the population health improvement alliance was formed in 2009 to provide high level thought leadership for healthcare in India. Since then, DMAI has been at the forefront of driving healthcare reforms. Most of our recommendations have been accepted by the government at the centre and also by the states. We continue to be invited by the government bodies in India and global bodies like the United Nations for various discussions on healthcare policy and implementation.
I have been associated with eHealth for over 5 years, and eHealth has come a long way since then to find presence amongst the best healthcare magazinesÂ in South Asia today . I have been a regular reader of this magazine and have also authored articles for this magazine. Besides, I have spoken at eHealth summits in Kuala Lumpur and India and have enjoyed the quality of discussions and the participative industryÂ leadership in the audience. I cherish my association with eHealth and look forward to participating in the next summit in November at Hyderabad. My best wishes to Team eHealth to work harder to become the leading voice of healthcare in South Asia and become the no.1 magazine in the region, in the times ahead.