Technology can drastically improve healthcare quality and outcomes. It can make the healthcare industry as efficient, as it did for other industries. However, advanced technologies often comes at prohibitive cost.
Acquiring medical products from foreign markets burgeons the burden of healthcare cost, whereas, manufacturing them locally requires a very congenial regulatory environment. The way out is to not only manufacture equipments at home but do so in most cost-efficient manner that can make it easily affordable. And, for all this, we need a strong support from the government and solidarity among all stakeholders.
India’s medical device industry is currently the fourth largest market in Asia. However, there was a time when the industry was far ahead than its competitors. India has the best of medical expertise, scientists and competent manufacturers, but lacks a regulatory system that can support it. It’s disappointing to see manufacturers who are recognised globally, still struggling in the myriad of our legal and regulatory system.
Take a look at Malaysia’s medical device industry. The Malaysian market for medical equipment and supplies is estimated at US$614 million in 2008, and recent trends suggest a positive outlook leading to 2013. Till some years back Malaysia was heavily reliant on imports, buying 90% of its medical equipments from abroad. However, the situation started changing in 2006 after the Malaysian government implemented the Voluntary Registration for Medical Devices Establishment (MeDVER) system. Today, the government is working hard to reduce trade obstacles to promote manufacturing of high-end medical equipments.
Also, there is a need for better connectivity between health care deliverers and the industry. Procuring the latest medical technology is not the end. In fact, it’s the beginning. With time and vigorous use we find the best techniques to make the optimal use of technology for quality patient care. And, we need to share such best practices, so that it’s not restricted to limited people.
Lastly, we need to change our mindset that the best technologies can only be developed in the West. There are many new innovations taking place in isolated corners of India, but unfortunately there are few takers. Lately, some of the domestic and international medical device firms with their R&D in India are hiring local talents to develop high-tech products applications. May be we can hope to make India a hub of medical equipment manufacturing.