Posted in Finance Articles, Total Reads: 643
, Published on 29 November 2015
It is health that is real wealth and not pieces of gold and silver - Mahatma Gandhi
Healthcare industry is not the same as it was in the late years of the 20th century. It has witnessed a paradigm shift from being considered minnows to becoming one of the largest and fastest growing industries in modern day. From being miniscule in the recent past it is currently showing exponential growth largely due to the fact that life expectancy levels are at an all-time high. Diseases like Poliomyelitis (Polio), Dracunculiasis (Guinea Worm) and many others which have haunted us in the past are slowly being thrown into oblivion.
In the Indian context, the predominantly sheepish middle class has grown more than ever before over the past few years. Their expectations about health benefits have also grown. The patients are being empowered and as a result they are now beginning to take charge of their own health decisions as against those taken by the prescribing physicians or the doctors. Several disease prevention programs have been set up in the country to detect diseases like Cancer early with the help of Healthcare agencies. Drug availability has also witnessed a radical change as new and improved drugs are readily available throughout the country. Healthcare has played a pivotal role in bringing about these revolutionary changes. Intelligent use of technology to come up with new and more effective medicines, getting them delivered to people who need them the most, increasing quality and efficiency while simultaneously decreasing the cost are just some of the areas where Healthcare finds its application.
What is Healthcare? Simply put - it is bringing in innovation and newer business models to cater to the evolving needs of the patients. In order to achieve this, it becomes necessary to collaborate with other healthcare professionals with similar mind-set of creating low-cost models while building new capabilities. Also these capabilities need to be continuously evolving in nature to counteract the changing market needs. It also involves adapting to latest technologies and trends and changing our outlook to become more technology-centric. It is transforming this industry to become more patient-oriented and focussing on developing new ways to do everyday operations with the primary goal of helping more patients.
The biggest challenge that this industry faces is the sheer number of misdiagnosed cases. Unfortunately, some of these cases also result in death. Some patients die due to lack of doctors while some die due to lack of medicines. Healthcare experts in the past did foresee that there will be an immense shortage of doctors and medicines. There are cases in rural areas of India and in other countries of Africa where patients wait months at a stretch to receive basic medicines. Developing countries face acute shortage of doctors as well as proper equipment. The medical equipment’s are too bulky to carry around with them to remote places. The immense cost of such equipment’s are also a major hurdle. Healthcare reforms are the need of this hour which safeguard the interests of the patients. Overcoming such hurdles may not be easy but it is certainly a step in the right direction. It is now imperative to move beyond clinical innovation and shift the entire focus on helping patients lower the total expenses without compromising on quality.
Certain countries are playing a pivotal role and pioneering the advancements being made in Healthcare. Countries like USA and UK are bringing more and more innovations to the forefront. USA, in particular, shot into the limelight with its landmark judgement regarding the Affordable Care Act (ACA), also known as ObamaCare. Such acts benefit everyone impartially and should be replicated in other developing countries as well in the near future. While it is highly improbable to implement it successfully in the upcoming years itself, steps should be taken from the start itself in order to ease its implementation later.
This industry has witnessed several unconventional yet brilliant methods to tackle such issues. The biggest contribution comes from the fact that they have managed to harness technological innovations which are not even related to the Healthcare stream. Machine delivery, automatic medicine delivery, portable medical equipment’s and 3-D printing are some of the prospects that Healthcare has managed to tap into currently.
Robotic machines are being increasingly used in developed countries to deliver medicines to remote places which are not easily accessible using latitudes and longitudes. The time taken to deliver medicines has been exponentially reduced. These machines were originally used to monitor traffic by providing a live aerial view however are now widely being used in countries like Australia for delivering medicines. It is safe to assume that it is only a matter of time when such machines are made available to developing countries as well.
Countries in Asia and Africa are now making online services available to the patients as well. This is after such practices have been immensely popular in the western countries. Healthcare consulting has brought many such practices to developing nations as well. It has helped patients realize the value of healthcare technology that can improve the efficiency of the entire process. Introduction of health applications in mobile platforms has revolutionized the management of health care in urban areas. Patients who are not in an emergency are availing online facilities for their regular follow-ups. This saves time and is far more convenient for both the doctors and the patients.
In order to tackle the problem of bulky equipment’s, Healthcare industry has come up with futuristic multi - purpose equipment’s which are portable. Several developed countries like USA and UK, who are pioneers of the Healthcare industry have provided doctors with portable devices which are being used to conduct medical procedures like ultrasounds, x-rays and many other procedures in the remotest of areas. These devices are equipped with state-of-the-art technology that helps the doctors connect to the internet, share the results and consult with their team. This ensures that the patient receives proper medical attention.
War - torn countries like Sudan, Palestine and Syria have the largest casualties in the form of children. Children who have lost their limbs due to accidents are getting help in the form of 3-D printers. While the original purpose of 3-D printers was to prints small objects which look real, Healthcare consulting has managed to surpass the imaginations of everyone by finding its application in creating artificial limbs. Now-a-days 3-D printers are widely being used to create customized artificial limbs. Doctors from developed countries are increasingly taking part in bringing innovative technologies to developing countries for the benefit of the needy and 3-D printing is an example of precisely that. Scores of children are getting a second shot at life due to such technological marvels.
“Doctors Without Borders” is another wonderful initiative where medical aid is provided based on the needs of the patients of any particular region. Spread across 70 countries around the world, these doctors save countless number of lives by providing medical attention to the needy. They not only provide help in epidemics, natural disasters and crisis situations but also undertake long - term projects to support people who cannot otherwise access healthcare. Be it Nepal where earthquake caused havoc or Central Africa, Sudan, Syria and Afghanistan which are flooded with cases of armed conflict, “Doctors Without Borders” is always ready to provide help.
Healthcare has certainly grabbed the attention of many. It is fast becoming one of the most sought after industries in modern times. Healthcare consultants have their task cut out – to develop new ways to do everyday operations and at the same time help more and more patients in whichever way they can. It may be a difficult task to achieve in the short run but the Healthcare industry is leaving no stones unturned in trying to achieve that within the near future.
This article has been authored by Abhishek Nigam from T.A.Pai Management Institute
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