Bengaluru, March 12, 2017
Challenges faced by the primary health care sector in terms of pricing and opportunities were discussed at Ayusmat, a summit organised by the first batch of General Management for Healthcare Executives (GMHE) of the Indian Institute of Management Bangalore (IIMB) here today.
The GMHE, a certificate programme offered by IIMB’s Executive Education Programmes, is aimed at high performing individuals in the healthcare domain who are looking to transition from a functional role to a management role. This sectoral program has been designed and developed by IIMB in partnership with Apollo MedSkills, the skills arm of Apollo Hospitals.
A press release from IIMB said there was currently great diversity among healthcare institutions and modes of healthcare delivery. There is an increasing penetration of technology in direct service delivery as well as back-end operations. IT-enabled devices are beginning to form the backbone of contemporary healthcare. This transformation has created a need for a new breed of leaders and managers in the healthcare sector.
Emphasizing the role of business schools in healthcare in this context, Prof. Shankar Venkatagiri, Programme Director, GMHE and faculty at IIMB, said that there is a strong need for managerial excellence in helping extend the goodness of healthcare from urban to rural settings.
Inviting the speakers to address the ground realities of healthcare in India, Prof. Venkatagiri encouraged them to enlighten the audience on how technology can make healthcare affordable for India’s rural population.
The keynote address was delivered by Dr. H Sudarshan, founder, Karuna Trust, who spoke about inclusive growth and emphasized the need for building partnerships between the public and private (profit and not-for-profit) institutions to address secondary and tertiary healthcare needs.
“The core concept of this partnership is the constitutional guarantee of both parties which should address various issues such as cost of healthcare, provide healthcare choices and incentivize healthcare quality management,” he explained.
Listing ways to reach the unreached, Dr. Sudarshan shed light on how the sector could ensure establishment of sub-healthcare centres and added that he was counting on the younger generation to help achieve an inclusive growth in the country’s healthcare scenario.
Dr. Sudarshan’s keynote address was followed by a panel discussion on Primary Healthcare:Financing and Pricing in India - Affordability and Accessibility. The panel comprised Dr. Nandakumar Jairam, Chairman, Columbia Asia; Dr. Mudit Saxena, CEO, Care Hospitals; Dr. B S Ajai Kumar, Chairman, HCG; Vishal Bali, Chairman, Medwell Ventures and Asia Head - TPG Growth; and Shashank ND, CEO, Practo. This discussion was moderated by Dr. Pulijala Srinivasa Rao, CEO, ApolloMedskills.
Dr. Ajai Kumar pointed out that India has now become the global destination for medical treatment. “India is the cheapest healthcare provider in the world. So now the next step is how to improve on the existing facilities. Government has to bridge the gap between those who are well-to-do and those who are not, and also boost the country’s GDP. The profits of government regulations and government insurance schemes should reach the right people. We have to pay for quality healthcare, hence private enterprises need to be encouraged. Corrective measures are needed so that the real needy people are the beneficiaries of government policies in the healthcare sector.”
Dr. Saxena highlighted that the number of doctors, nurses, beds and investment too, are inversely proportional to the vast needs of a country as populous as India. Moreover, registered practitioners are mostly in urban India. The emerging innovative models such as homecare, cloud-based services, and so on, along with price control and R&D, can address many challenges faced by healthcare providers and boost the profitability and sustainability of the players in the healthcare segment in India, he said.
Dr. Jairam said that lack of political will has been a hindrance in the sector. Government needs to make greater investments in healthcare. However, it is not just about pumping money, but the manner in which funding happens which is important. Government funding needs to be insurance driven. With a larger volume, private insurance will be sustainable.
“Low quality care is no care at all. Appropriate care is invaluable. Social part of health insurance is not sustainable. By increasing spends on insurance, government can increase occupational productivity too," he said.
He touched the audience deeply when he admitted that trust in the sector has to be restored for healthcare services to improve. “Healthcare services need to become transparent and accountable. An appropriate model of governing healthcare, with a high level of ethics, is a must. Ethics is important, but do not compare ethics with cost of care," he said.
Mr. Bali pointed out that the healthcare market is underpenetrated, considering the high investments in the sector and the evolving market. Higher affordability needs to be built, along with widening the number of people who are covered. “We need to use the capital to create more viable investment and healthcare opportunities. Investors will shy away from the sector if there is no profitability. This is the time for innovation - the market is huge, hence use capital productively and effectively, ensure profitability, keep raising the bar and build your enterprise,” he suggested.
Mr. Shashank shed light on his learnings about technology in healthcare. “According to Practo’s finding, healthcare is largely sustainable only in India’s top 10 cities. The urban-rural divide with respect to healthcare is vast and we aim to bridge this gap by using technology to reach the remote areas of the country, and by making doctors accessible to the rural population,” he said.
The afternoon session had a panel discussion on Predictive: Impact of Big Data and AI towards Patient Care. The panelists were Rama Chandra Dash, Head, Watson Health at IBM; Dr. Satish Rath, Healthcare Research Head, Conduent Labs; Rama Nadimpalli, GM, Cerner India; Kumar KV, IT Head, Narayana Health, and Dr. Ruchi Dass, MD, Healthcursor Consulting. This discussion was moderated by Dr. Ananth N Rao, GM - Operations, Apollo Hospitals. Rama Nadimpalli, GM, Cerner India, started the discussion by emphasizing how having a robust data platform is inevitable for med-tech.
Mr. Kumar spoke about how health IT is a sector that was not much invested in, and how it is slowly beginning to pick up now. He also spoke about how the Government must raise awareness and encourage healthcare institutions to adopt Electronic Medical Records. He went on to talk about protecting healthcare big data and the role of privacy from infrastructural and application standpoints.
Mr. Dash spoke about how IT infrastructure used to be a constraint in India before, not anymore. “The quality and quantity of data is going to determine the cost of treatment. The focus for start-ups should be to provide solutions. In order to be able to offer solutions, start-ups need a robust platform,” he said, advising healthcare entrepreneurs to adopt API based platforms with access to cloud.
Dr. Rath focused on the nature of data and shared some insights on how analytics helped to boost administration and clinician efficiencies. He also took the conversation to an interesting turn when he spoke about Aadhar. He said that the use of Aadhaar (Unique Identification Numbers) in the Indian healthcare system would revolutionize the way healthcare is rendered to citizens. “Data input as well has become considerably easy due to smartphone penetration,” he said.
Dr. Dass spoke about the digital trail that consumers leave behind. She spoke about how whatever transaction people carry out on the web, they leave behind some data. “There are a lot of new concepts coming up in the healthcare space every day. Despite this, Indian healthcare is suffering from ‘no data’ and ‘bad data’,” she added.
The third panel comprised Gautam Khanna, CEO, Hinduja Hospitals; Dr. K S Gopinath, Surgical Oncologist, HCG; Dr. Jagdish Chaturvedi, Director, Innaccel Acceleration Services; Prakash Iyer, VP, Healthcare Solutions, TATA Communications; Guruprasad S, Head, Healthcare, Bosch India and Dr. Sandhya Mandlekar, Head, PCO, Biocon, Bristol-Myers Squibb Research Center. The discussion was themed on Progressive: Untapped Potential of Prescriptive & Preventive Care.