A peek into India’s healthcare financing sector

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There is no doubt that India needs to expand its healthcare coverage and make it affordable and effective for the common man. According to World Health Statistics 2013, the country only has 0.9 beds per 1000 population, in comparison to Brazil’s 2.3, China’s 3.9 and Malaysia’s 1.8 beds. This gap presents a large potential for growth in the healthcare industry.

Factors such as India’s growing population, rising incomes, increasing lifespan, greater health awareness, lifestyle diseases, and increasing insurance penetration are expected to contribute to a huge demand for healthcare services going forward.
 
All these factors put together will lead to a potential patient base of 115 million in India by 2017. Can our Healthcare industry meet these demands? Given the above picture, the need for affordable, accessible and quality healthcare is more important today than ever before. Latest medical equipments help in early detection of diseases and also ensure disease management and cure in a more non-invasive and efficient manner. This will result in both time and cost savings: time savings through a quicker cure and cost savings through lesser or no hospitalization stay.

As technology advances, the dependence on medical equipment is steadily becoming a necessity for diagnosis, intervention and treatment to prolong and improve the quality of life. Evidently, there is a growing demand for high quality technology-driven healthcare options. The Indian medical equipment industry has been growing at an average rate of 17% for some years now. It is estimated to touch nearly USD 6.5 billion by 2020.

However, non-availability of high-end sophisticated medical and healthcare equipment in both private and government hospitals remains a challenge in the country today. Tier II and Tier III cities remain untouched by advancements in medical technology.

In such a scenario, healthcare equipment financing sector can help bridge the gap created by the lack of the 3 A’s – affordability, availability and accessibility – to drive technology to the most remote corners of India.
Healthcare equipment financing can make a difference to India’s health burden by making it affordable and effective. It is an option available to growing healthcare facilities as they plan to grow their patient care capabilities. Spreading awareness of the healthcare financing segment can lead to greater levels of penetration, making medical technology accessible to smaller hospitals, medical practitioners and pathological laboratories.

There are several financial solutions available to growing healthcare service providers. Specific models of public-private partnerships pertaining to medical equipments have also emerged in different parts of the country. The government-run SMS Hospital in Jaipur is one such instance. The hospital administration had limited capabilities to handle and maintain high-end medical equipments. They collaborated with a private contractor to operate their own machine in the hospital premises with special concessions and even free services for the poor.

Apart from the public-private partnership model, the medical fraternity also has the option of loans and other structured finance alternatives. Leasing is another option with training in equipment installations and maintenance provided to the professionals. Giving equipment on rent or pay-per-use is yet another option which, apart from making it affordable, reduces the chances of any loss from obsolescence.

Healthcare equipments are complex and its financing requires understanding of the equipment’s lifecycle and the technologies involved. Healthcare financing requires understanding of the complex machinery, life of the equipment, chances of its obsolescence and accurate calculation of patient usage costs.

While medical equipments are an uncompromising need of the current healthcare scenario, their successful implementation and continued usage is based on the three fundamental aspects of purchase, repair and maintenance. Healthcare providers can ensure that they are taking full advantage of advancing medical technology by effectively partnering with expert financial service providers.

Source: Money Control

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