Major Challenges of Indian Healthcare Industry

Healthcare industry is perhaps the only industry that touches all humans of this planet. And this industry is continuously pursuing newer technological advancements to serve better.

When it comes to India things looks very complex with 121 crore people with humongous diversity and changing demographics and social-economic mix. India ranks 129th in the HDI (Human Development Index) out of total of 189 countries. Healthcare is an important factor in determining HDI. The Indian Healthcare System is facing some serious problems because of the size of its population and the diverse socio-economic mix it has to serve.

Few major challenges faced by the healthcare system in India

  1. Increase in lifestyle diseases – In the last 70 years, India’s Healthcare Industry-focused mainly on communicable diseases, maternal, neonatal and nutritional health conditions. However, in the last two decades, there is a shift towards lifestyle diseases. The estimated death due to lifestyle diseases has increased from 37% to 61.8% according to ICMR (Indian Council of Medical Research). These lifestyle diseases like cardiovascular, diabetes, asthma etc are predominantly found in the urban areas and affecting the age group of 30-59 years. One way of addressing this growing concern is to use technology and social media to increase awareness and encourage people to take preventive measures. Is our healthcare system leveraging enough social media and internet to spread awareness and preventive measures?
  2. Healthcare Infrastructure – India is far lagging behind when it comes to Healthcare Infrastructure like hospitals, diagnostic centres, primary health centres (PHC) rehabilitation centres etc. There is a huge difference between demand and supply when it comes to healthcare infrastructure. Not only India is lagging behind infrastructure it has an acute shortage of Human Resources in this sector. This sector needs highly qualified, well-trained professionals. According to WHO, there is one government doctor for every 10,000 people in India.Govt. is spending 1.28% of India’s GDP on healthcare, which is highly insufficient to cater to the healthcare need of this huge country. The government have to increase it’s spend, build more hospitals, PHCs, medical & nursing colleges etc. Both public and private sector should use technologies like Artificial Intelligence, Cloud Computing, Big Data, and Telemedicine etc. to fill up this gap. Use of social media and digital marketing to reach out to people effectively.  
  3. Information Management System – India does not have any centralized healthcare information management system. We have a huge number of migrant workers who move from rural areas to urban areas and/or move from one state to another. The healthcare service providers have to rely on what the patient can explain about his past health condition. There should be an initiative to store patient’s medical record electronically and link that with Aadhaar number. 1.2 billion Indians have this unique identification number, so we should leverage this to tackle the problem and should make patient’s medical history accessible from any part of India, this will reshape healthcare by helping service providers, pharmaceutical industries and research development in the field of healthcare. Of the several challenges faced by the healthcare industry like lack of infrastructure, lack of qualified professionals, cost of healthcare, accountability and lack of awareness, lack of awareness cuts through all sections. Many communicable and non-communicable diseases can be prevented if people are aware and take adequate preventive steps. 

With the growing use of smartphones and high-speed internet services which has penetrated even the remote areas of the country, it is becoming easier to reach out to people. Today’s consumer, especially the millennials are dependent on apps and websites. So this industry should tap this reach and utilize it to engage people with healthcare in a more constructive way by use of artificial intelligence, virtual reality, telemedicine, mobile health apps, healthcare IoT, Big Data Analytics etc.