Tuesday, September 21, 2010
My Take on the Indian Healthcare Sector
Healthcare sector in India gave me a mixed feeling.My prior experience in the Indian pharmaceutical sector while based in India, coupled with my insights into the sector as management trainer, consultant and also as a customer(read as patient and their dependents)gave me lot of food for thought. I am sure this small note would activate the grey cells of many of my Indian friends so as to put forth their opinion on the topic which is of immense significance to all and sundry.Indian healthcare sector are broadly classified under the following heads(Manishankar's classification)-Organized chains of corporate hospitals, mom and pop hospitals and nursing homes functioning as semi organized players and the dilapidated public sector players, not to forget the traditional medicinal players and the quacks trying to pitch their own offerings.Corporate chains are good in many aspects, especially when it comes to offering quality treatment along with their composite services which provides a good experience for the patient and their dependents. The pricing strategy is questionable especially when there is an absence of a regulator which can monitor the services, benefits and the pricing strategy followed by different chains.They have very good medicos and paramedics, however, a wide gap is existing especially when it comes to reaching out to the masses, vis-a-vis that of the classes.My experience with two chains in Nagpur and Chennai were reasonably good, sans the opaque feeling a customer have, especially when it comes to the pricing policy adopted by the players and some service related constaints encountered while the patient is metamorphosed from an out patient to the in patient.One shouldn't deny the fact that these chains offers the best services, be it the medical staff and quality paramedical support to complement each other.The loopholes exisiting in their processes are minimal, what calls for immediate attention is to target a wide range of segments through flexible pricing policies.Quasi organized players in the form of mushrooming private nursing homes and hospiatals are minting money with the exception of a handful few which are offering value for money to the consumer.As far as the public healthcare players are concerned, apart from a minsuscle few, most of them are sustaining only because the masses have no option but to lean upon so as to save their lives and that of the dependents.The handful few public operators which are benchmark of sorts are located in some metros as a result of which a chunk of the citizens who otherwise cannot afford the private players are deprived of them owing to locational disadvantage.Moreover, typical of any public sector players, red-tapism is the biggest bane which need to be resolved at the earliest if India is to serve its billion citizens who are dying only because they cannot access quality medical care.The traditional service provider have created a niche for themselves and are also making waves of sorts in the global market, especially when the awareness level of the end user is ever increasing thereby opting for something having minimal side effects.The quacks are trying to play on the ignorance of the rural household.One thing which is common across the sector is being leveraged by a wide range of unethical professionals who consider that their patients and the dependents should treat them as demi gods and never question their decision.The awareness level is always increasing with every bit of information available at the click of the mouse, the improved educational standards reaching out to the nook and corner of the country could only test the approach of the doctors and their supporting staff.Would wind up with an article read recently,authored by a professor from CMC,Vellore, where he emphasized on the importance on humanities in the Indian medical and healthcare sector sums it up all, doctors need to be good human beings first, understanding their profession always have an element of service towards the human kind, the monetary benefits would simply follow, if one knows this core value.