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Healthcare Predictions 2018- Shift in focus and a bold future

Vipin Pathak, Founder & CEO, Care24

Over the past decade, there have been substantial advancements in the healthcare industry in India. Rapidly transforming medical technology together with changing practice pattern of doctors has completely revolutionized the way health care is being delivered today.

Looking forward 2018: Prediction for 2018, what to expect and the biggest trends that will rule.

Healthcare industry is almost growing at 18% CAGR and that would continue at an even pace. Indian consumer especially urban is getting health conscious and preventive healthcare would see a change. There is a shift in the trend from multi to single speciality which would see more players and the focus would be on specific condition management on both acute and chronic side. Diabetes, hypertension, Dementia, Mental health management will get more traction. Government and hospitals will face double duty; to reduce the length of stay and to still improve margins. Traditional healthcare providers need to adapt to technology and become efficient to sustain and grow. Innovative models of Homecare, step-down care can increase the patient service without much additional CAPEX needs.

Creation of new hospital beds are expensive but converting the Home beds into patient beds can be very efficient and give better recovery outcomes. Health Insurance penetration is slowly increasing but is still at it; 20% which is far from minimum. Insurance claims both on retail and corporate side are largely non-profitable with additional complexity of persistency. Unless the penetration increases, the insurance support to healthcare will remain limited and not much impactful. Rural healthcare remains a massive problem and needs immediate attention and private players need to be incentivized to form new business models. Pharma industry has seen a lot of action with large acquisitions, mergers and that would continue even downstream with distributors and CNF consolidation. Technology, logistics and fake drug detection needs to be addressed by regulators as well as pharma companies. Medical manpower across services are a problem from speciality doctors to paramedical staff. The population: doctor ration 1700:1 remains a challenge and needs smarter solutions. Nurses, Paramedic shortage is over a 1.5 million and is facing severe attrition to Middle East, Southeast, Europe and other parts of the world. NSDC, Health ministry intends to increase this workforce and a lot of partners including Hospitals, Homecare, nursing institute can help and formulate training-placement- retraining model.

The burden of chronic diseases is increasing rapidly. Sedentary lifestyle, diet changes, and rising obesity levels is and will continue to be a serious concern. It is estimated that lifestyle diseases will account for a whopping 74% of total deaths by 2030 (compared with 56% in 2008) with Cardiovascular, Cancer and Diabetes accounting for a majority of the disease burden. Challenges around access, affordability and quality of healthcare contribute to low life expectancy especially in rural areas. Government, private and public sectors need to join hands. We could be positive and work for improved health outcomes with easier access to quality healthcare infrastructure.

2018 Healthcare: Shift in focus

2018 will see the New Care Delivery models taking the lead. The care delivery model in India will shift focus from hospitals, clinics and a doctor-centric approach to a more patient satisfaction approach. Rise in cases of Alzheimer. Dementia will force health professionals to deepen their understanding of degenerative neurological conditions. These conditions will expand the need for homecare providers to up their game. The focus on quality of life will also transform care giving into a much more recognized profession. 2018 will see applauding steps to provide quality care, with a focus on emerging diseases and investment in promotive and preventive healthcare. Government will and must play a crucial role. In the flip side, in 2018 medical costs will grow at a slightly faster rate than 2017. Future reductions in cost trend will require more focus on price and at the same time deliver quality. Unless and until the Government takes active part and stretch it’s helping hand, efforts by healthcare providers will not reach its height.

Conclusion: Solution and what in next 5 years?

To enable universal healthcare access we need to initiate winning leap solutions. Shifting point of care wherein the non-critical and long recovery patients recuperate at home by converting home beds into hospital beds with the needed medical setup at home, thus reducing the average length of stay in hospitals. Professionals will have to bring in technology-enabled solutions to reduce stress on hospital infrastructure. Emphasis on preventative care will be given attention. Early diagnosis of diseases enables timely treatment and fewer complications. Basically we will have to encourage alternative delivery access for all.

The Indian government needs to act as a growth driver for the healthcare sector. The government needs to increase spends on healthcare. Healthcare services should continue to be charged zero tax under the GST regime. Levying GST can add to the financial burden on the patient and/or patient’s family. Healthcare should be given a priority sector tag. This will help channelize funds from the banking sector to create necessary healthcare infrastructure. Provide tax benefits for setting up healthcare infrastructure in Tier 3 and 4 cities as well as rural areas. If we get this right, millions across nation will have access to quality healthcare in
the next 5 years. Additional employment opportunities will be generated in the next 5 years. On the whole we can bring in positive outcome for the country by preventing daily loss due to heart disease, stroke and diabetes.

Despite on-going political uncertainties and rising cost pressures, we all need to function and contribute such that the global healthcare industry will register a stable growth rate during 2018.

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