Informing that Indian private healthcare is suffering with cost of low cost, he said, “It is a testing time for private healthcare practitioners and there is no doubt about it. The question is how do we sustain, look at the margin and reinvest in technology. But the overarching goal of value for patients is not access, cost containment, convenience or customer service, it is a value-based framework of care and the trust factor between the patient, doctor and hospital. Private healthcare segment should understand that trust factor is combined with cost factor and it is not associated with the outcome factor. No one is looking for cost vs benefit,” he said.
Sharing a global perspective, Dr Ajaikumar said, “Cost in healthcare in other countries are enormously different. The US spends $10,000 per person, most of the EU countries spend $5000, China spends $500 and India spends $83 but we expect the same outcome as the other countries. As you start spending less, your outcomes are ought to be less. When HCG did a study of patients of colon cancer and breast cancer who took treatments under various central and state government schemes compared to those patients who had taken private insurance or paid cash, it brought out a startling fact that 44 per cent increase in morbidity and mortality was recurring in people who opted for treatment via the schemes unlike the latter. Clearly, there was a difference. Perhaps in the scheme-related treatment, the approvals were not timely or they had limitations in finance. But these things are not addressed as it is not palatable. At this junction, operational excellence becomes important to maintain a patient-centric environment and have productivity, efficiency, cost-effective and quality healthcare.”
Informing that to bring about good outcome and reverse invasion, value-based medicine is the key, he said, “Indian healthcare providers are known for productivity optimisation, using the technology to the hilt and utilising the equipment to the maximum. For example, a linear accelerator is run from morning 5 am to next day 2 am in a hospital. When it comes for high efficiency, it is already in our system and we have very short waiting period compared to many other countries. Cost of the treatment is pittance here and still we are stuck with low-cost business. So, let’s not beat down the cost, now we need to focus on increasing the quality of care and outcomes. Technology cost is high and government is certainly not helping in importing cost. With GST, we are actually paying more than other countries, even then we have mastered the technique on how to deliver low-cost healthcare.”
Going forward, Kumar informed that evaluating and enhancing an organisation’s operational processes is a must for achieving excellence.