Last year lot of regulatory initiatives from the government have affected the overall profitability of the industry. National Pharmaceutical Pricing Authority (NPPA) drastically brought down the prices of stents and knee joint implants. While this has made critical surgeries cheaper for the masses, it can affect investment sentiment in the country in the long run. Provided the government can give due incentives to the medical devices industry, this can give a fillip to “Make in India’ campaign and boost domestic production and bring down imports. Budgetary provisions must bring out a clear cut policy on the same.
It is also the right time for the government to come up with a Right to Health Bill. Promotion of Medical Value Travel (MVT) must also find top priority from the government. National Medical Commission Bill must address all the prevailing shortcomings.
The US spends close to 17% of its GDP on healthcare, the figure is expected to increase to a whopping 25% by 2020. Most of the other developed countries spend 7-8% of their GDP on healthcare. India ranks poor on most healthcare indices and yet its out of pocket spend is more than 70%. This is too much of a burden on the common man, especially in a country where large swathes still remain underserved with basic healthcare amenities. Greater insurance coverage (current coverage is close to 3.5%) can be the game changer. This can immensely benefit the providers while bringing down healthcare burden for the majority. Healthcare spend needs to increase to more than 5% to start with, it should be increased later in line with global trends.
Government must reduce regulatory requirements for building new hospitals – this is major stumbling block to new investments in the country. We need to invest more in innovation and research, as also in creating world class teaching institutions to bridge the shortfall in high quality manpower. Greater investments in science and technology – stem cell research, regenerative medicine, gene therapy and precision medicine are other areas worthy of new investments. The government must give incentives to the wearable industry and help democratise healthcare. We sincerely hope the government clearly displays its strong intent to bring about substantial changes in how we spend on our health in the country.