By Vaibhav Tewari
The healthcare industry in India– like in the rest of the world– finds itself at interesting cross-roads. While COVID-19 exposed the lack of preparedness of the industry, it also ushered in a new era of medical treatment and care where every home can be turned into a healthcare facility, if the need arises and where quality of care can be integrated into our daily lives!
Indeed, shortage of manpower, medical equipment and general infrastructure in public and private hospitals turned out to be fatal for millions requiring immediate care during the pandemic. The high cost of quality medical treatment and continuity of care also makes it out of bounds for most even during normal times. On top of it, studies show that out-of-pocket expenditure for those seeking medical care goes over the roof for many requiring advanced treatment.
Adversity, it is said, is the seed of opportunity. COVID-19 gave birth to new ways of delivering healthcare to people, often in the precincts of their homes and in community settings. Digital health or technology-assisted healthcare delivery has been around for many years now but this got a shot in the arm during the pandemic. On top of it, lack of beds in ICUS, shortage of oxygen and other medical equipment led to innovations in home healthcare delivery, a trend that is rising with each passing day.
The demand-supply gap in healthcare is huge, to say the least. There are not enough doctors in a country of India’s size.The doctor-patient ratio is abysmal at 1:834. And with chronic diseases on the rise in India’s urban as well as rural areas, screening for conditions like hypertension and diabetes is very low. Elderly people in India are among the under-served as they cannot stand in long queues in hospitals to get treatment. Other services like nursing care and physiotherapy services are often concentrated in rural or semi-urban areas.
Here is where innovations in home healthcare are emerging as a possible solution to the demand supply gap. With testing, doctor consultations and high-quality patient care all being made available within the comfort of one’s home.People can now look forward to accessing quality care without that grueling wait at the hospital or in a testing facility. Many lab tests that involve blood or urine sample collection are now being done at home, thanks to the services being offered by some of the leading home care brands.
Not just testing, home healthcare is seeing a big jump with nursing and physiotherapy services for recuperating patients now being made accessible to people at home. With trained healthcare personnel, nurses, caregivers and physiotherapists being made available, many of our senior citizens are now receiving care at home. Medical equipment like hospital beds is available both for purchase and rent from the homecare providers.
Innovations in home healthcare often integrate technology in the delivery of medical care and services thus making it possible for regular monitoring of healthconditions; facilitating doctor-patient interactions based in real time data and making changes to the lifestyle so as to achieve optimumhealth. The field of diabetes care has seen a big boom with many healthcare players offering a combination of data monitoring, preventive care and diet-cum-lifestyle guidance all at one place. Self-management of many critical conditions like kidney disease, cardiac complications and stroke-related issues are being made possible through effective technology-based homecare interventions. Many players are also offering to set up medical ICUs at home which can drastically bring down the cost of hospitalization.
The Indian home healthcare market size was valued at USD 7.4 billion in 2021 and is expected to expand at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 19.27% from 2022 to 2030.1While diagnostics holds the highest market share, therapeutics and services are also not far behind. Home healthcare, as per recent research reports, can reduce unnecessary hospital visits by over 65% and the overall operational costs of hospitals by about 20%.2 It also improves quality of care as patients can receive individualised treatment designed to meet their specific needs, besides recuperating from the comforts of their homes.
While home-based health care is quickly evolving as a new normal along with technology-assisted healthcare delivery, it is also reinforcing the World Health Organization’s basic approach – health is not just absence of disease, it is a state of physical, mental, emotional and spiritual well-being. And the best place where this integration can happen is the home!
(The author is Co-Founder & CEO, Portea Medical. Views expressed are personal and do not reflect the official position or policy of FinancialExpress.com.)