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Mint Healthcare Summit: Accessibility, affordability remain biggest hurdles for sector’s growth

The major growth hurdles for the Indian healthcare sector remain the lack of accessibility and affordability for the middle- and lower-income groups, with few quality beds available in the country, industry experts said at the Mint Healthcare Summit. India needs to reduce the cost of healthcare and use technology to create better patient experience and clinical outcomes, they said.

“There are around 2.8 million hospital beds in the country, including both private and public, [which means] we have around 1.7 beds per 1,000 people. Developed nations have around 2.5 to 3,” said Aryaman Tandon, managing partner and co-Founder of Praxis Global Alliance. “Even though we are short, we have covered much of the ground. The issue is that the supply is there where demand isn’t, and supply is lacking where there is demand. Along with that, less than 1% of hospital beds are accredited, and less than 25% are of high quality.”

Vivek Srivastava, co-Founder and CEO of HCAH India, added, “To address the access, affordability and standardized outcomes problem, we need quality at scale. You can’t depend on the hospitals [for this].”

Acknowledging the issue, Om Prakash Manchanda, managing director, Dr Lal PathLabs, added that the problem cannot be solved completely, but there is a huge opportunity for everyone to address it by building up the scale of the industry. “If you’re able to build scale with an organization which is focusing on operating efficiencies and capital efficiencies, you can bring down the cost of care,” Manchanda added. “We can also address the issue from the management perspective by bringing down the cost. Then there is the [issue of] penetration of healthcare insurance as well.”

On insurance penetration, Aryaman added, “Health insurance in India is a dumbbell-shaped market where on the lower end, with Ayushman Bharat, CGHS, etc, we’ve already reached a good insurance level, with per-capita coverage of close to $1,000 a year. The issue is the missing middle. Close to 300 million people in India are uninsured.”

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Updated: 30 Nov 2023, 10:51 AM IST

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