By Sameer Joshi,
The COVID-19 pandemic proved the inadequacy of India’s healthcare system in meeting the needs of a billion-plus population. With hospitals full and struggling to accommodate even COVID-19 patients, those needing care for other ailments had no choice but to be treated remotely at home.
While far from an ideal situation, it did have a silver lining – it accelerated the growth of the home healthcare sector.
Pre-pandemic, care at home was limited to either geriatric patients or patients suffering easily treatable illnesses.
But the lack of hospital beds during the peak of the pandemic, as well as reluctance on the part of patients themselves to visit hospitals for fear of contracting COVID-19, the government’s strict stay-at-home orders and the boom in virtual technology and telemedicine, have shifted the home healthcare sector into a higher gear, making it capable of offering more complex treatment from the comfort of the patient’s home.
Home healthcare is a relatively new concept in India but a survey by Godrej Interio cited industry sources as estimating that the sector would grow at a CAGR of about 19% by 2025.
In addition to the pandemic, the survey found that the increase in urbanisation and nuclear families were major factors driving this expected growth. As also are the falling mortality rate and increased life expectancy of the elderly, with the proportion of senior senior citizens set to grow to 20% of the total population over the next 30 years.
This greater tendency of patients to increasingly seek home healthcare has forced the sector to cultivate skills that were earlier missing. There is still a skills gap, primarily in the form of a disorganised home care sector and a lack of skilled nurses and caregivers. But remote medicine made possible by wearables, video communication, artificial intelligence and the Internet of Things has plugged it to some extent and bought time for the sector to upskill its practitioners.
But there are other challenges that need to be overcome if the sector is to realise its potential as a truly full-fledged viable option to hospital care.
Chief among these is the lack of infrastructure. Even if patients are convalescing at home, they need adequate equipment to aid their recovery. But homes naturally lack the basics, such as proper care beds, or feeding tables or mobility aids. Families often don’t know where they can get even a proper bed and when they manage to find one, it’s often not adequate for the type of care the patient needs.
But the growth in the home healthcare sector has spurred medical equipment and manufacturers to make equipment specifically for the home care environment, such as the Grace Homecare bed developed by Godrej Interio.
The Grace Homecare bed is engineered to meet both a versatile range of medical needs as well be aesthetically appealing. It has an electronically adjustable back and leg rest. It can be adjusted to minimise the risks of Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT), common among patients who are immobile for long periods of time.
It has a full-length side rail to prevent falls, rounded corners to prevent injury, and gaps in the frame to prevent the patient feeling trapped and claustrophobic. Ergonomically designed, it is 450mm high with the mattress, which makes it easier for transferring patients from the wheelchair to the bed.
It facilitates patient mobility and, being easy to clean and enables better personal hygiene. Moreover, it lowers the costs of treatment, as it cuts down the amount of time a patient needs to spend in hospital.
The home healthcare sector is still in its infancy in India. But products like the Grace homecare bed can provide a boost to the sector while also giving a patient the option to recover in a stress-free environment at home.
(The author is Associate Vice President, Marketing (B2B), Godrej Interio. The article is for informational purposes only. Please consult medical experts and health professionals before starting any therapy, medication and/or remedy. Views expressed are personal and do not reflect the official position or policy of the Financial Express Online.)