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Technology and Healthcare Delivery

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Dr Dharminder Nagar

Dr Dharminder Nagar
Managing Director, Paras Healthcare, Gurgoan

Please comment on healthcare market in India vis-a-vis the global market.
The Indian healthcare industry can be termed as the sunshine sector, with its increasing revenues, investments, FDIs and technology advancements. In comparison to our global counterparts, we now also have destination and specialised tertiary care hospitals providing low-cost treatment and care to patients from all over the world. With the estimate of growing US$ 100 billion by 2016, one can be certain that with public and private partnerships the gap of healthcare infrastructure, medical professionals shall be abridged. In my opinion the important aspects to be learnt and incorporated from the global market are – government expenditure and support to healthcare along with structure in planning the same. Today with production companies being opened in India, and Indian hospitals opening their units abroad, we see recognition and a positive future for ourselves.

Please tell us about your current operations in India and your expansion plans.
At present, Paras Healthcare has three commissioned hospitals at Gurgaon, Patna and New Delhi. By the last quarter of 2015, we shall also be commencing Paras in Darbhanga. By 2020, Paras Healthcare aims to establish healthcare facilities at tier-II and tier-III cities. Five years from now, it will have a bed strength of 1500 and revenue of `800-1,000 crore.

What are your views on the price sensitivity of the Indian market, and how does your hospital counter this problem?
The mission of Paras Healthcare is to provide affordable specialised tertiary care healthcare facilities to the common man. To give access and approach to healthcare you have to suit the pocket of the community at large. With around 70 percent of the population making expenses out of pocket, majority still in cash, hospitals have to streamline their costs. One should not view price sensitivity as a hurdle. In fact, it is a challenge, which forces you to utilise your resources, optimise your processes and ensure that we deliver quality healthcare services.

What are your views on government regulation or any other challenges faced while operating the Indian market?
The government support to the private sector to establish specialised tertiary care centres is in adequate, despite the fact that today 70 percent of the healthcare facilities are provide by private players in India. High custom duties, slow government approvals and low primary health coverage are all hurdles. Also, closure of many PPP projects takes time. The government policies need to be more defined, timeline oriented and robust to suit the finances and the ground realities of a private player. Projects like universal healthcare coverage and healthcare for all should be realised into reality.

Please comment on emerging trends and new technologies.
The two most significant emerging trends in India are dual disease burden, gaping reality of the gap between healthcare infrastructure and manpower. The first forces us to understand the changing paradigm of diseases and the second asks for more policies, government inclusion and Public-Private-Partnership (PPP). In view of technology and healthcare delivery, today we are going through a metamorphosis. We are open to all types of healthcare models. The concepts of telemedicine, paperless healthcare, healthcare at home (from bench to bedside and online doctor consultation and second opinions) are just few examples that make us realise that the Indian Healthcare industry is exceptionally dynamic.

It is time that the Indian healthcare fraternity accepts its digital transformation and incorporates the same. A model that saves time, cost, resources and is more convenient should be selected. A comprehensive inclusion all over the country shall transform the entire industry and its interface. Doctors who are hesitant, professionals who are sceptical should accept evolution. We need to make sure that we have the resources and the capability to accommodate technology at its introduction and not at the end of its market life cycle.

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