Health insurance and TPA: Integrated healthcare business model, which is prevalent in developed countries, is beginning to make roads in our country. According to estimates, more than 80 per cent of the expenditure on healthcare is out of pocket in India. Approximately, three per cent of country’s population is covered by insurance of some form or other. India’s strong middle class can afford insurance. Expected growth in health insurance is around 13 per cent per annum. The increasingly affluent and strong middle-class population of 100 million is demanding and willing to pay for higher standards of healthcare. With the growing insurance market, we have seen growth in the TPA’s business as well. There are over 20 licensed TPAs. According to provisions of IRDA, every regional office of the insurance company has to appoint TPAs to take care of policy holders for cashless services.
CII-McKinsey study shows that at its current pace of growth, healthcare tourism alone can rake in over USD 2 billion as additional revenue by 2012. India offers world-class healthcare that costs substantially less than that of developed countries. For instance, heart surgery costs USD 30,000 in the US and just USD 8,000 in India, using the same technology delivered by competent specialists attaining similar success rates. Medical tourism in India has evolved at a great pace and the Indian sub-continent attracts patients from SouthEast Asia, Africa, Middle East, the UK and the US.
Growing health consciousness among middle and high-income families in India is heralding a new business opportunity – preventive healthcare. This has shifted focus from in-patient treatment to a regular preventive health check. Corporate companies offer annual health check for their employees; insurance companies conduct pre-insurance policy check; and self paid health checks also give out a potential business opportunity.
The global healthcare industry is increasingly under pressure due to regulations and the need for cutting costs, which warrants huge potential for Indian IT companies to tap this market. We can capitalise on the BPO opportunities, existing at least in the more advanced sectors of healthcare such as imaging, disease management and claims processing.
Telemedicine: Tele-consultation and remote-patient-monitoring is taking a big leap in India to integrate fragmented healthcare industry. Technology of treating patients while the patient and doctor are geographically distant is best suited for Indian healthcare scenario, where cost and accessibility of quality care for a section of society is still a big question.
Healthcare IT: The health informatics market in India is on the verge of a rapid growth phase. Corporate hospitals and big trust hospitals have realised the need to transform themselves into paperless and film-less environment. Increasing competition, both global and local, with the entry of corporate hospitals and international ventures will be one aspect of fueling this segment. Application of information technology in healthcare will restructure the whole system with standardised workflows, medical record maintenance, real time patient monitoring, remote patient monitoring, decision support, knowledge management for patient and physicians, tracking of equipment and supplies, cost-effective patient transaction, patient education, and improved decision support for the management.
Laboratory and diagnostic services: India is becoming a competitive outsourcing destination for high-end laboratory and diagnostic testing. Dr Lal’s Pathlabs, Metropolis Health Services, SRL Ranbaxy are few of the diagnostics chains catering to the high-end services for hospitals in the UK, the US and West Asia. It is very cost effective for them to outsource these investigations to Indian providers, which is almost 70-80 per cent less expensive than the US laboratories.
Medical devices: The medical equipment market is the direct beneficiary of the boom in healthcare industry. Cardiology equipment accounts 20 per cent of total market followed by imaging systems, which constitutes about 15 per cent of total market. Driving forces are new investments in super-specialty hospitals and diagnostic centres, competition, existing setup upgrading their equipment, favourable government policies such as a reduction in import duties on medical equipment, expanding market boundaries etc.
The emerging industry structure is headed towards providing healthcare services as an integrated comprehensive package rather than the traditional concept of providing healthcare infrastructure and reactive medical care. Recession free industry is estimated to grow at a rate of 13 per cent per annum, which offers sufficient incentives for new players. With globalisation spreading its wings, we have seen national boundaries getting shorter day by day and with accreditations coming in, Indian healthcare is emerging as a ‘Global Doctor’.
The author is a Healthcare Consultant with Infosys Technologies, Pune.
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