World Health Day 2019: Home Healthcare, the missing cog of universal healthcare

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Published: April 5, 2019 4:57:57 PM

World Health Day 2019: While metropolitan cities have world-class facilities, the situation in tier II and III cities is not adequate to meet the healthcare demand.

World Health Day 2019World Health Day 2019: There is a misconception among people that home and personalised care is costlier.

World Health Day 2019: Health accessibility and affordability remain a crucial healthcare problem even in the 21st century. Therefore World Health Organisation chose “Universal Health Coverage” as the theme for World Health Day 2019. India started working towards the universal problem of affordability and accessibility with the introduction of Ayushman Bharat. The scheme gave a family cover of Rs. 5 lac to socio-economically weaker section and roped it many private sector hospitals to deliver the services. Sadly, most of the roped in hospitals are situated in the urban localities and last mile accessibility remains a point of concern in the country with diverse cultures and topography.

The urgency of expanding insurance coverage to home healthcare sector is critical to the industry’s prospects. According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), India has merely 0.9 beds for every 1,000 Indians; a number far below WHO’s recommendation of 1.9 beds per 1,000 population. There is a misconception among people that home and personalised care is costlier. However, the average monthly cost of in-home care is 20% less than that incurred in other health-care facilities.

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Dr. Kapil Kochhar, Additional Director, Department of Laparoscopic & General Surgery, Fortis Hospital Noida told the Financial Express Online, “Hospitals should start considering home healthcare as their extension instead of competition for holistic healthcare. Patients are always willing to go back home early but are afraid of any unforeseen problems. Once they are assured of home help they will be happy for early discharge. Home healthcare does not replace the hospital services but decreases the hospital burden by taking less critical patients out of the hospitals. This in turn help hospitals to free their beds for more critical patients and improves their revenue per bed. Some known corporate hospitals understood this fact and partnered with home healthcare providers for their patients. Moreover, as a large number of patients are using insurance to get their treatment, so this also decreases the financial burden on insurance companies and they might also pay for home care. The situation is a win-win scenario for the patients, hospitals and the partnered home healthcare companies”.

The theme for the World Health Day is in lines with the current healthcare needs. India is doing well on the affordability front, however, accessibility remains a problem due to lack of infrastructure in the remote areas of states with difficult topography. Home healthcare services can do wonders in creating the last mile connectivity.

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Talking to the Financial Express Online Vivek Srivastava, CEO, HealthCare atHOME which provides home health care services in India, said, “India is struggling with a shortage of medical infrastructure and skilled manpower. While Ayushman Bharat is a significant step in the direction of increasing affordability, accessibility of quality healthcare still remains a concern. Home healthcare is an immediate, cost effective and comfortable alternate to make quality healthcare affordable, accessible and available in all parts of the country without heavy investments on infrastructure”.

While metropolitan cities have world-class facilities, the situation in tier II and III cities is not adequate to meet the healthcare demand. More importantly, for chronic ailments, there is no necessity to continue with long stays and go through the stress of re-admissions. With appropriate use of technology, high-quality home healthcare services can be implemented and expanded to cover a wide base of the population in India.

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