Our motto is to bring ‘Healthcare Closer to Everyone’ at affordable costs: Ninad Raje, CIO & Director, HealthAssure

Driven by the rise of new technologies, more & more healthcare facilities have moved from hospitals and clinics to homes and communities. From smartphones, social media to sensors, new tools are empowering consumers with more information and control over their healthcare decisions. To get more insights about the healthcare industry, Dataquest interacted with Ninad Raje, CIO & Director, HealthAssure. Excerpts

What are the technologies where government should invest to make healthcare available to everyone on the go?

Our nation has made remarkable progress on several fronts, and is healthier today than ever. India has successfully eradicated many diseases, including smallpox, polio and guinea worm disease. It has significantly reduced HIV infections and AIDS-related deaths. It has emerged as a hub for generic-drug manufacturing, and it boasts a large public-health infrastructure.

Despite this progress, India continues to struggle with critical issues and gaps in its healthcare system. Healthcare is underserved and under consumed. Health insurance covers less than a quarter of the population, and out-of-pocket spending is high. Hard infrastructure and talent are both in short supply and there are significant regional variations in healthcare delivery. Investments in primary care and public health have long been inadequate. A strong bias towards curative care reflects a culture that often neglects prevention and wellness. The quality of care is mixed; high-quality care is hindered both by limited accreditation and by failure to adopt basic technologies. Towards this end, the Indian government has shown encouraging signs that it intends to make healthcare a national priority. What the government should now be focusing on is:

1) Increasing public spend on healthcare from 1.3% of GDP in 2012 to 3-4% of GDP by 2025. A greater share of public spending should go towards prevention, including mass screenings and primary care coverage. It should pilot and scale up universal-coverage models to guarantee essential care. The central and state governments should collaborate to ensure that healthcare is a high priority and ensuring that health regulations are uniform.

2) It should mandate minimum quality standards for delivery and diagnostic providers and device manufacturers—for example, a “light” version of the National Accreditation Board for Hospitals & Healthcare Providers (NABH) standards. The government needs to invest in an IT backbone and interoperability standards in healthcare, providing incentives for adoption, relying on tools to manage access to innovation in publicly funded products and services.

3) Create partnerships: private-private, public-private and intersectoral, involving the delivery, insurance, technology and pharmaceutical sectors of the healthcare industry.

– Expanding insurance coverage and reducing out-of-pocket expenses by rolling out a universal coverage system for essential care, which includes government support for the disadvantaged.

–  Institutionalizing minimum quality standards for healthcare products and services, and initiating tracking of outcomes.

–   Using health-technology-assessment (HTA) tools to determine access to innovation.

– Investing in IT and other technologies to overcome access barriers in remote areas and engage patients – for e.g. EHR, Telehealth etc.

Expanding the supply of healthcare talent in critical roles, rejuvenating AYUSH (ayurveda, yoga and naturopathy, unani, siddha and homeopathy) and encouraging private investment in education. A clear roadmap for governance and continuing medical education (CME) for professionals can help improve the quality of healthcare talent.

Encouraging local manufacturing, transforming India into an export hub for medical products and equipment and also focus on raising India’s profile as an R&D hub for tropical diseases

4) Government should invest in expanding the supply of affordable care, especially beyond metropolitan areas, with appropriate incentives. It should continue to innovate with new delivery models, including private partnerships, to improve quality of care. And it should invest in cost-effective innovation in drugs and device manufacturing to transform India into an Asian hub for high-value products.

5) It should harness technology to expand the reach of existing services like telemedicine. This includes prioritizing investments in the appropriate technology tools, such as electronic health records (EHRs), to enhance care quality and coordination.

6) It must improve quality by encouraging the adoption of minimum standards and enhancing the skills and capabilities of doctors, nurses and allied personnel through training, career progression and CME. They should focus on education and awareness of healthy living and prevention; it should invest in worksite wellness programmes for corporate employees.

7) Engage with the private sector on health policy, sharing their expertise on such matters such as procedure costs, pricing and new technology assessments. It should commit to adopting and promoting ethical behaviors and norms.

8) Both central and state governments must provide public funds. The private sector should receive adequate investment, with incentives to invest in local manufacturing and healthcare delivery in underserved areas. Publicly funded services must be rationally priced, ensuring fair returns for private providers.

But that’s not all. The infrastructure must be made ready to meet anticipated growth in demand, especially following universal coverage. Trained talent in every field must be available in every part of the country. Consumers will need high levels of health awareness and should be willing to take individual responsibility for health outcomes.

Health IT and data can serve as the backbone for effective implementation of these initiatives, tracking outcomes and providing disease surveillance. State and central governments will need to improve the level of cooperation for consistent implementation of these public initiatives.

 What are the healthcare-specific solutions that HealthAssure offers to the healthcare segment?
HealthAssure is a ‘Network Based Product Company’ focused on providing flexible solutions to the ‘Primary Care’ segment within the healthcare eco-system. We provide aggregation services within this space including widespread access coupled with huge discounts. Our motto is to bring ‘Healthcare Closer to Everyone’ at affordable costs. We provide packaged as well as highly customized healthcare solutions to multiple communities including individuals, employers, employee, the insurance sector and pharma sector among others. Additionally, we provide Health & Wellness solutions to corporates.

One of our primary objectives is to focus on providing preventive care services, governed by the 3 ‘A’s’ – ‘Accessible, Available & Affordable’ healthcare to everybody.

Our core asset is the widespread quality ‘medical network’ enabling us to provide services in 800+ cities across India. We have a wide array of general as well as specialized medical networks including diagnostic, opthal, dental, diabetic, cardiac, specialist etc. Additionally, we offer health & wellness services such as HRA (health risk assessment), EAP (employee assistance program), customized health programs for corporates, health talks & seminars, health analytics among our wide range of health related products.

The above is delivered by highly trained & qualified medical experts, using cutting edge technology. We have recently launched our technology based and highly acclaimed ‘mPower’ product, which is an advanced & feature rich app enabling anytime, anywhere medical appointment scheduling & tracking.

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