With a population of over 1.342 billion and increasing by the second, a country such as India should be medically sound and financially stable but unfortunately it is just the opposite. With a heavily rising population, the rise in communicable diseases is apparent and with unstable financial conditions, rising ‘lifestyle’ diseases is common. With the country’s existing infrastructure, catering to the growing healthcare demands is difficult. A majority of the Indian population is living below the poverty line and depends on the under-financed and short-staffed public sector for its healthcare needs.
The private sector dominates the healthcare industry across India with a majority of healthcare professionals concentrated around urban areas with high paying consumers while the rural areas remain ignored and their healthcare needs unmet.
Challenges for India’s Healthcare Industry:
1. Population: Being the world’s second-largest populated country with an ever increasing migration – in-between neighbouring countries, across state borders and from rural settlements to urban areas.
2. Infrastructure: Citizens can avail of healthcare services, free treatment and medication at government hospitals but the facilities are not up to mark, are under-staffed and under-financed which forces patients to visit private hospitals and medical practitioners. India’s existing infrastructure is not enough to meet the healthcare needs of a growing country.
3. Insurance: According to the data from Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority, 76% of Indians do not have a health insurance. The Indian Government’s contribution towards insurance stands at 32% as opposed to 83.5% in the UK. Also, India’s healthcare expenditures are one of the lowest in the world.
For the eyes of an entrepreneur, these challenges shall come as opportunities, in fact the present Indian healthcare industry presents numerous openings and untapped opportunities. The lack of trained medical resource and insufficient infrastructure in the public health domain are enough reasons to stir an entrepreneur’s mind with innovative ideas relating to healthcare solutions which shall help eradicate major voids in services and healthcare delivery across the country.
Entrepreneurs who aspire to make a difference can survey the rural areas and evaluate the extent to which our countrymen are deprived of medical aid and aim to set up hospitals in smaller towns and villages which are designed to operate at minimalist costs.
Entrepreneurs who can invest may work towards developing low-cost solutions for healthcare such as, diagnostic kits for rural households, cheaper surgery options, low-cost dialysis technology, and low-cost pathological laboratory, etc. thereby accelerating the country’s social and economic growth by making quality healthcare facilities available to the below average income group. Entrepreneurs must ensure that the work towards developing low-cost solutions for healthcare does not compromise with the quality of healthcare service delivered.
Telemedicine and remote care is a boon in rural India since it provides access to doctors to a large population of under-served people. Developing a telemedicine centre for every district hospital will not only reduce the burden on one hospital but also reduce the patient’s number visits to the hospital. Telemedicine ensures that a large number of remotely placed people are cared for minor health issues without the need to visit the district hospital, which may be way too far to reach. While minor medical cases can be treated over the phone, the ones that are more serious can be called for personal examination and further treatment.
The digital boom and internet penetration is a huge opportunity for growth of healthcare services. Owing to new technology, innovative solutions aimed to provide quick, reliable and effective medical facilities in the rural areas can be developed enhancing communication between doctors and patients. The increase in internet and data usage makes way for innovative mobile applications and e-health portals such as blood bank services and online pharmacies.
Emergency medicine and healthcare is an excellent opportunity for innovation. Entrepreneurs may invest in developing very well equipped ambulance services ready for critical intervention. Employing doctors, nurses and paramedics trained in emergency response techniques is a progressive thought in a country where pre-hospital care is virtually non-existent in rural areas. By launching educational and training departments to prepare resources ready to tackle emergency & trauma and ambulances equipped with critical care units, an entrepreneur shall not only be making a difference by investing but shall be investing for the good of mankind and towards the nation.
Patient care does not end with the patient’s hospital discharge. Most out-patients need treatment once they are back home. Entrepreneurs can develop centres for Medicare and Medicaid which shall have a home healthcare system in place wherein skilled practitioners can provide care to patients in their homes under the direction of a physician. While assisting the patients to recuperate at home and avoiding hospitalisation, the healthcare services should aim at promoting patients’ optimal level of well-being and helping them in improving their functions so that they can live a life of greater independence and fulfilment. Post-treatment patient care is an important feature in healthcare services where patient safety and quality are important aspects and must be adhered to.
Post the Clinical Establishments Act of 2010, some Indian states have worked towards having a better access to affordable healthcare, it is way lower if compared with other developing countries and knowing that India has a long way to go, increases the plethora of opportunities and innovations. The healthcare sector is emerging as the new sunshine industry which make setting up an entrepreneurship in healthcare an excellent business opportunity.