Arnab Paul, traditionally a Biochemist by profession, recipient of HURST Fellowship, American Universiy, Washington DC, USA and Saltire Scholarship, University of Aberdeen, UK, found his calling in Public Health and gradually moved into Healthcare IT space with a vision to improve the health outcomes of the people of India. Passionate about facilitating the alignment among technology, people and processes to ultimately improve patient experience and the functioning of healthcare.
He is an invitee speaker at various forums including ASSOCHAM. Arnab Paul, in conversation with Ekta Srivastava, Health Technology
What is the concept underlying Patient Planet? Any model that you emulate?
It centers on the philosophy of improving the healthcare delivery services by using non-traditional method of delivery mechanism and by the optimal use of technology in services like healthcare on demand and Tele-health. Our main focus is in the niche segment of Healthcare at Home.
Our Core business model is built around the concept of Healthcare on demand whether it is by tele-consultation or by the actual visit at home by the provider.
We seek to empower the patient by providing him with a platform to engage with the healthcare system in real time and also by collaborating with all the stakeholders of the healthcare ecosystem. We strive to establish a kind of synergy among all the stakeholders that would facilitate and improve the healthcare delivery system by bringing the caregivers/healthcare providers to the patient in the shortest possible time.
We are in an age of healthcare consumerism where patients’ interests are more vested than ever. It’s important for providers to accommodate the power shift. This means increasing transparency, finding new ways to facilitate communication, responding directly to patient concerns and questions when raised, and being proactive in staying ahead with new innovations in health and medicine
Healthcare delivery model is where we are keenly interested. We strongly believe in Uberization of Healthcare, our app would allow anyone to access the expertise of the best doctors in the shortest possible time depending on the provider’s availability.
What are the centers of excellence at your project?
We just signed an MOU with Kokilaben Dhirubhai Ambani Hospital, Mumbai. Interestingly, International patients can be very demanding about other ancillary facilities apart from Medical care. Having personally witnessed it firsthand I reckon what works for KDAH Mumbai is that it offers world class facilities with all the ancillary provision.
Currently, we are in the process building our network by tying up with other accredited hospitals. We need to create more centers of Excellence, this being capex intensive, most healthcare services need high asset utilization above anything else. So it would be prudent on the part of big hospitals to focus on the area of medical tourism so that there is proper asset utilization and that it also becomes another source of revenue generation.
For our Healthcare at Home project we are in talks with few Real estate people in setting up of palliative care units.
What’s your Mission and vision for Patient Planet and how affordable it is for Indians?
Our Mission: is to provide high quality home health care services to individuals and their families at home and to provide health care personnel on demand.
Our Vision is to be one of the leading service providers of ‘Healthcare at Home’ services through cost effective innovative service delivery models, and improving client care through the use of advanced technology.
Since Healthcare expense is still borne by out of pocket for 80 % of the population we have to bear this in mind before pricing our services. Initially, it will be completely free to use our app.
How is the flow of international patients and how good is medical tourism in India? Your suggestion to make India a healthcare destination?
The influx of international patients is increasing every year. There is only a dip when there is an advisory issued because of a looming terrorist threat. My humble suggestion in making India a destination of choice is, again as I said by improving the delivery mechanism and making the system more transparent and accountable. There is sometimes a tendency on the part of some Healthcare providers to promise the moon and hard sell a healthcare package but, as they say it serves well to under promise and over deliver. Follow up care is sometimes poor or non-existent. I believe hospitals should bundle costs of treatment and care. This is something the healthcare providers can improve on and incorporate in the package so that the patient feels confident about the entire process.
India with its particular native holistic treatments and alternative medicine like Homeopathy, Ayurveda, Yoga, has a huge potential to contribute and expand in promoting medical tourism and become a leading country for such intervention which is underestimated in current practice of medical tourism of India.
Healthcare at Home, How do you think India fares there, and what do you think should be done to meet global standards of adaptation?
India needs to add 1.7 million beds, double its medical manpower and increase its paramedical manpower three-fold to match WHO standards. Healthcare at home is here to stay because we cannot increase the number of beds over night. Neither can we increase our trained manpower. We need to optimize our limited resources that are available to better manage the healthcare service delivery system.
India is poised to grow exponentially in the Healthcare at Home Segment. Is is catching up and there is tremendous scope for growth and improvement, the players are still trying to get the business model right. At the moment it has caught the imagination of some corporate house and entrepreneurs. But the moment the hospitals get interested in this niche segment that would greatly enhance the quality of care and it would result in a more structured ecosystem in Healthcare at Home Services.
To adapt to global standards, the Service providers need to ensure that there is consistency in quality and continuum of care for the patients. Ideally Home healthcare providers should be get JCI Home Healthcare Accreditation to compete globally.
What will be the existing opportunities in implementation of technology in healthcare?
Technology will create more opportunities by bringing in disruption in the healthcare space. In recent years, it has become clear that technology holds the key to the future of healthcare. The doctor to patient ratio is abysmally low compared to the West, and this is where technology can be significant use. Now, It would be interesting to see how technology changes the market dynamics mainly in the healthcare service delivery systems.
One major opportunity in implementation of technology in healthcare is in the wearable segment. The monitoring system by way of wearables would greatly enhance the quality of care and improve the clinical outcome. Implementation of technology would supplement the management of lifestyle diseases and chronic care management. According to the National Commission on Population, the aging population is projected to increase from the current levels of 110 million to nearly 300 million by 2050. In view of the changing demographic profile of our country it would be interesting to see how technology improves the clinical outcome and the general well being of the aging population. Wearables could greatly improve and facilitate in remotely monitoring the patient, in recording their vital parameters and also in alerting the physician in time of emergency.
What are the roadblocks and challenges in Indian healthcare?
Access to healthcare, funding, and lack of government support are main roadblocks. Also, the policy implementation at the grass root level is a major inhibitor. The healthcare challenges combined with existing financial pressure within the healthcare sector demonstrate that traditional delivery methods of health services alone will not suffice.
Some of the challenges faced by Indian healthcare system are accessibility and affordability of quality healthcare services and medicines to a large base of our population. Also, lack of healthcare Infrastructure and the urban rural divide when it comes to accessing healthcare services is one of the challenges.
What are your expectations from the new government? Will it transform the healthcare sector?
We know for a fact that the % GDP spend on healthcare by Government of India is woefully low as compared to other countries. But, the irony is whether the GOI doubles or triples the GDP spend on healthcare, it is not going to have a huge impact on the healthcare service delivery system, at least not in the current form.
Market forces will eventually help revitalize the healthcare service delivery system but we need the political will, GOI should make the environment conducive for the healthcare start-ups. GOI should constitute a Healthcare Infrastructure fund on the lines of National Investment and Infrastructure Fund (NIIF).
I believe, less regulation and more governance is the way forward to improve the Healthcare delivery services in India.