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In order to strengthen our healthcare system, we need to adopt a collaborative approach

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PD Hinduja has been serving humanity for nearly seven decades. Help us recount how this journey has been so far? 
PD Hinduja Hospital was established in the early 1950s under the leadership of the late Shri PD Hinduja as part of their charitable mission to serve the nation. It has completed nearly seven decades. I have been part of this institute for the last 13 years and I must say that the journey of this institute has been great. Over the years this institute has been a great example of excellence and has contributed immensely to the healthcare sector n India.

To recall, the journey of this hospital I would say that it started right after partition. The situation faced by Bombay in those days was grim due to the influx of refugees. Sanitation in the crowded camps was poor. Health problems had multiplied. It was beyond the ability of the city’s public hospitals to cope with the situation. Provision of an essential healthcare facility to the ailing poor thus became the need of the hour. Even in those days, the vision of the hospital was to deliver quality healthcare to the needy. In 1961, their eldest daughter-in-law Lalita Hinduja lost her husband and so she was given the responsibility to look after the hospital. She took it up as a social reform function and introduced many good clinical practices. Years later, the hospital was registered under the charitable trust act. In the 1980s, the hospital trustees and management had a collaboration with the Massachusetts General Hospital that brought clinical expertise, knowledge and practices to the hospital and thereafter the hospital continued to achieve new heights. What was started as a small clinic has today grown to be a 400-bedded state-of-the-art one of the best institutes in the country. We are motivated to lead the pathway to medical excellence with world-class healthcare treatments and services.

Hinduja was one of the first hospitals to start the model of doctor consultant practice that brought a huge change in the society. Also, Hinduja hospital right from the beginning gave a lot of importance to learning and education as it believes that constant learning is a key to progress. This is one reason why we have been able to maintain our competence. The other important aspect that the hospital focussed was utilising the latest technologies to provide top-notch care to patients. We got the first Gamma Knife in India. That is why we have always stayed ahead in a competitive environment and have remained relevant in changing market landscapes.

How has Indian healthcare transformed over the last 2-3 decades?
In my career spanning around 21 years, I have seen many gaps in the healthcare domain. There have been many demand and supply gaps when it came to healthcare delivery and services. Nevertheless, in the last 10-15 years, things have changed tremendously. Firstly, awareness among patients about health and healthcare has increased, especially among those seeking care in private hospitals. This is also due to the rise in disposable income and the Internet boom which has made information on health and healthcare available in abundance. Secondly, there is a change in disease profiles among Indians. NCDs are on the rise — CVDs being one of the leading cause of emergencies within hospitals. The other change is the ageing population. Unfortunately, India is not geared up to address the health problems that the elderly community experiences.

Lastly, India is going through a huge regulatory change. Be it price reforms, health insurance and delivery models. Take the example of our flagship programme Ayushman Bharat scheme which is still going through its teething problems but seems to be much promising.

What is your take on partnerships with the government? What kind of incentives should be provided to private entities to partner and deliver quality and affordable healthcare?
In order to strengthen our healthcare system, we need to adopt a collaborative approach. Partnerships with the government are one way by which we can achieve this. However, successful PPPs in the healthcare domain are few. There is a need to create strategies that meet the needs of all stakeholders in the partnerships and possibly some SOPs need to be outlined.

How has the role of medical technology evolved over the years?
The advancements and utilisation of medical technology have played a vital role in the evolution of India’s healthcare system. Earlier, I spoke about the demand and supply gap and other challenges that hamper progress. I feel in future, technology will be the solution to the many problems that our country’s healthcare system faces. Now there are two types of technology portfolios — Meditech (Gamma Knife, robotics, cath labs, MRIs, linear accelerators etc) and IT-based technologies.

While medical technologies come at a very high cost, IT-based applications related to patient engagement and patient education come at a nominal cost. Now with the application of AI, augmented reality and more, we can enhance patient experience and provide better care at a lower cost.

GE Healthcare has been a valuable partner to you in your journey. What do you value most in this partnership? This year, Wipro-GE completes 30 years in India. In your view, how have they impacted the healthcare ecosystem in this country?
There are many limited numbers of technology providers who have a credible name in the eyes of customers like us. GE Healthcare is one amongst those top credible brands. They are one of the first companies to understand the Indian market potential. They brought the best technologies to the Indian market as soon as the technology was launched. So for example, years ago when a medtech equipment was launched abroad it took a lot of time to be brought to India. Today, this has changed. Thanks to companies such as GE Healthcare. Plus, GE Healthcare, as a company has understood the price sensitivity of the Indian market and addressed it to a certain extent. Moreover, now GE Healthcare has started to manufacture equipment that suits the needs of Indian consumers.

The approach has helped them acquire a good market share in the country and also gain enough goodwill. Providers today trust their products. Ours is a long-standing relationship with GE Healthcare. Many times we have been their first customer to buy new technology. We appreciate this partnership.

How can Medtech companies such as GE Healthcare improve the healthcare delivery scenario in India?
We have already seen that companies such as GE Healthcare have already started manufacturing equipment that suits India’s needs. It has started manufacturing many devices and equipment in India too. I hope that someday, GE will manufacture high-end radiological technologies such as MRIs in India which can be exported to south-east Asian, the Middle East, African countries too.

The second thing is the utilisation of Indian talent. India has a wide talent pool. Companies such as GE Healthcare have already started incubating and training manpower to utilise these advanced technologies. In future, we hope that India can be a great talent provider for the sector.

What are the innovations/technologies that will define the future of healthcare in India?
AI, nanotechnologies, molecular diagnostics are some areas that will define the future. But there is a need for further research so that people can understand it better and utilise it better as well. The acceptance is yet not fully satisfying and we truly need a mindset change. Nevertheless, proper research and evidence will help us in future.

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