Today, every individual is concerned about their health and this brings them to the situation where negligence or carelessness doesn’t hold a chance to stand. As soon as a patient is diagnosed, the hunt for the best hospital along with an ideal doctor begins. People want to be treated with more consideration and attention where treatment won’t cost a fortune. With majority of patients being out-of-the-pocket spenders, they are driven into poverty due to the rising cost of medical care. Along with technological trends hitting the healthcare sector, there are chances of getting invasive treatments which is much more affordable and accessible.
Thus to discuss these two major issues, we had some eminent panelists at Urban Healthcare Summit, held in Mumbai. They discussed on how to bring about the radical changes that will transform the healthcare sector into an affordable and accessible one.
Finest service at an affordable cost
Down the road, the healthcare sector can bring in improved outcomes where patients will not have to pay for unnecessary visits, they can optimise the time spent with healthcare providers when they do visit, and experience world class healthcare facilities at much affordable prices. But this issue is yet to be solved. Speaking on this, Rahul Bajpai, Chief Operating Officer, Healthcare Global Enterprises Ltd, HCG Cancer Centre, who has devoted the last 10 years for cancer care said,” Affordability is very crucial today because of the concomitant regiments that make the cost of cancer treatments exorbitantly high. And in a city like Mumbai, this has been prevailing for quite some time now.
Joining hands with him was Dr. Ashok Mehta, Medical Director, Brahma Kumaris Global Hospitals & Research Centre, who believed that affordability is a big issue today. Health is becoming more and more expensive where everyone wants to protect himself which leads them to chase investigations which can be avoided. Affordability has suffered because of the profession. “It’s time to make treatment more affordable by an excellent way of private public partnership that has not been considered very seriously by the state governments and the central governments”, said Dr. Mehta
Gone are the days when a company will sell and service equipments to you. Talking of better healthcare for a poor person, Dr Chatterjee, CEO, Dr L H Hiranandani Hospital holds an interesting approach towards it. He not only blames the poor business models but also stresses on providing the highest end of treatment possible. He cited, “In order to have an affordable and accessible healthcare, you need to compete and compliment. The business models have to change. We are talking in terms of not giving just mediocre treatment but the highest end of treatment possible. There needs to be a drop in the cost of the equipment and pertaining to that, there should be a collective purchase which is made up of 10-12 hospitals. This will lead us to drop the cost enormously. Affordability comes down if your mindset changes.
“One of the two things that we are witnessing in the last few years is the rise of cost in the private hospitals which can be reduced if the stay of the patient is reduced”, said Dr Kavita, Head of the Medical Service, Kohinoor Hospital.
Leading the Way for Accessible Healthcare
Every day doctors across various types of hospitals – government, private, semi-private or trust-based hospitals tend to see approximately 40-50 outpatients. Among these patients, those with medical insurance do not concern themselves with the cost of treatment. Commenting on the same, Rahul Bajpai said,” As far as accessibility is concerned, because of the poor roads, it takes a lot of time for a person to complete several fractions.”
Affordable and accessible healthcare facilities will bring down the hustle of hopping from one hospital to another. In this crisis, the importance of neighborhood healthcare facility stands out to be the best solution. Accessibility is very important in Mumbai. “To travel in a train, bus or even public transport is a big challenge for a sick person”, said Dr. Mehta. He further continued,” As an oncologist specialist, we ask the patients to visit repeatedly to the hospital for follow ups and checkups. Therefore the importance of Neighborhood Healthcare Facility is absolutely vital.”
The Perfect Partnership
Healthcare in India is complex due to the multi-layered architecture of health system administration. There are various considerations for this multi-layered hospital administration architecture. These include whether it gets public (Central or state government) or private funding, what location it covers (rural or urban), and what demography and prevalent diseases it covers.
The Government has taken a lot of initiatives in bringing affordable cost to the people. Dr. Neeraj said,” Affordable healthcare is not going to come from the government or the private sector alone. It will come from the attitude towards cost reduction, higher management undertaking bold steps and the employees put together to cut down the cost. The central goal cannot be completed by the government initiatives alone. The practices used in the industries are still not used in hospitals.”
It is no secret that there is a huge bunch in the society that is still struggling to afford a medical treatment. Regardless of funds, the healthcare sector is lagging behind in terms of affordability and accessibility. This is not the time for negotiating with clinics or undergoing a cheap treatment. It is about experiencing a world class medical facility at the nearest place and affordable price possible.