Is Indian Healthcare heading in the right direction?

A few days ago I met a consultant who also happened to be my neighbor. After exchanging a

A few days ago I met a consultant who also happened to be my neighbor. After exchanging a few pleasantries he surprised me by asking me a lot of questions on the state of the Dental Business in the country. Now I loathe to think   of Dental or Healthcare as a business. And somehow the tone of the conversation was cringe worthy. He then went on to talk very knowledgeably about the average revenue per bed and how the industry was poised for growth. I suspect he is working with Venture Capitalists(VC’s) to prepare an assessment of the industry. At that instant I had an epiphany. I felt terrible from inside as if something was wrong.

Is this what private sector really wants ? To look at an individuals and patients and their misery as a money making opportunity ?

Interestingly yesterday I met a B school classmate who had just relocated back to India from The Netherlands. Both his kids were born in The Netherlands and I was amazed to hear his experience with the healthcare set up there. To sum it up in 3 lines

  1. He and his spouse never met a gynecologist during the entire duration of both the pregnancies.
  2. Both deliveries and the pregnancies were managed by certified Mid-Wives (In older India this was called Dai, and most deliveries happened at home then), They even had the option to have the delivery at home.
  3. C-Section was not an option, both deliveries were normal

Now compare this to our situation in urban India. All birthing centers are led by highly qualified Gynecologists. Most birthing centers now recommend C Section to the upwardly mobile sections of society, the number of C Sections have gone up to 18% of all births in the upper strata of society. It remains at 5% for the lower sections. The numbers also vary if the birth takes place in a private institution compared to a government facility. Involvement of men in the maternity period and women empowerment may have played a role in this but one cannot deny the role played by ratios like “Average Revenue per bed”, a common measurement of business performance in corporate hospitals. Also a term my consultant neighbor waxed eloquently about during our short disturbing conversation.

As we continue to modernize and digitize healthcare, I wonder if the indications are correct. Are we heading in the right direction? I am disturbed as I write this but I wonder how you feel about the whole scenario. Do let me know.

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