Dec 21Featured ArticleIssue

Mission 2022 and beyond: Revitalising healthcare in the aftermath of the pandemic

Policymakers should collaborate with visionary health practitioners to institutionalise a prudent system to ensure that the affluent pay for value-added care. By Dr BS Ajaikumar, Executive Chairman, HealthCare Global Enterprises

The pandemic left the Indian healthcare sector bruised and battered through the collateral damage of low patient footfalls and operational stress. In the absence of systemic support, the private sector was forced to innovate on its feet and enforce cost-cutting measures for sheer survival, thereby sustaining negative EBITDA and cash flows. To its credit, the industry has shown exceptional resilience in rising to the occasion in a quick time.


Having said that, healthcare  stakeholders must collectively strive to move up the value chain of disruptive innovation to lock horns with future health challenges. The resilience of business models has now become more critical than ever before, and the digital route is being seen as the most feasible way to expedite healthcare, essentially through telemedicine and virtual consultations. The virus has singularly urged healthcare and pharma companies to keep pace with the industry in terms of technological adoption encompassing AI, robotics, digital therapies, IoTs, ultrafast scanners, wearable devices, big data, blockchain and nano health.

Across the globe, collaboration and consolidation hold the key for healthcare innovation. This is the time to demonstrate entrepreneurial leadership rooted in the agility and ability to foresee and adapt to seismic shifts – by reinventing systems, reengineering processes, redesigning continuity plans, and reshuffling teams. Last but not the least, the industry needs to proactively adopt the Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) principles, given that the world now consciously monitors and measures how corporates serve the larger cause of communities and environments.

Talking of the broader healthcare system, policymakers should collaborate with visionary health practitioners to institutionalise a prudent system to ensure that the affluent pay for valueadded care, while the poor avail of free or subsidised rates whereby price tags vary, not the quality. In parallel, our government should proactively help private hospitals with liquidity and fresh capital. It should also increase GDP allocation to healthcare, as also provide tangible relief to healthcare providers in the form of GST write-offs, tax incentives, and a moratorium on payments.

The COVID-19 pandemic, amid the havoc it caused across the globe, has underlined the need to make health our number priority. It has highlighted what was obvious all along, and yet stayed largely overlooked: the interconnectedness of every form  of health – whether physical, psychological, economic, or social health. Amid the ominous threat of the third wave, we now need to rescue Indian healthcare from the eddy of systemic deprivation. Our policymakers need to put together a visionary team to anticipate the evolving needs of tomorrow amid the perpetual uncertainty over the new variants and their transmissibility. India  urgently needs a value-based healthcare model to democratize health care delivery, led by improved accessibility and affordability with no compromise whatsoever on the quality front. For Indian healthcare to move up the value chain of activism and accountability, it is imperative that cost-consciousness and quality consciousness are not opposed to each other.

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