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Why Innovation in Healthcare is Important? Those with limited access to reliable primary healthcare often resort to other measures to care for their health or for the health of their loved ones

By Ashutosh Tiwari

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In 1947 when India became a newly independent country the life expectancy in the country was 32 years. Today life expectancy in India is 65 years. The dramatic rise in life expectancy in India is the result of innovation in healthcare. As a matter of fact innovation in healthcare is the reason that more people across the world today life significantly longer than they did a century ago.

However, while significant gains have been made in healthcare services in India much still need to be to bring the quality of healthcare in India at par with global standards. Consider that while life expectancy in India is an impressive 65 years, in many developed countries an average person lives nearly 20 years longer than an average Indian does today. Also, the infant mortality rate in India at 50 deaths per 1000 births is unacceptably high. Only by innovating in the sphere of healthcare can more Indians expect to live longer and take better care of their families.

Improving the Quality of Primary Healthcare in India

The first point of contact in India for most people suffering from an illness is a primary healthcare provider. However easy access to such a primary health care provider is often difficult for many tens of thousands of Indians. Those with limited access to reliable primary healthcare often resort to other measures to care for their health or for the health of their loved ones. Such measures, substituted in the place of primary health care, can often be pernicious to the health of many who undergo them.

Access to quality primary health care is much needed in India but the gap between the quality of healthcare available in urban centres and that in the interior of the country is vast. This gap can only be bridged by greater innovation in the delivery of healthcare across India.

Role of Technology in Improving Healthcare Delivery

In India, a country with over 1.3 billion people, providing quality health care to all citizens can be a challenge especially when the country itself is a relatively young country. It takes decades to build a progressive infrastructure that allows the nurturing of good policies that benefit everyone in the country. However many of the challenges faced by the healthcare industry in India can be overcome only with an innovative use of technology. This does mean finding ways to bring primary health care providers and patients together whenever the need to do so arises.

Being able to provide Indians suffering from illnesses with the right medicines to help them combat their illness is also essential. Services such as homecare are also essential as there are a large number of families in India who require the services of a caregiver. The number of qualified caregivers in India is also large and bringing families and caregivers together should be regarded as a component of innovation in healthcare in India.

Take a Second, Third or Fourth Opinion

Innovation in healthcare demands not only that patients in India have access to a quality primary health care provider, but rather that they have access to more than 1 primary healthcare provider. Physicians are human beings and can and at do make an incorrect diagnosis, by being able to take a second, third, or even fourth opinion from a qualified healthcare provider the quality of healthcare delivery will improve in India. Providing people with access to multiple healthcare providers is a subset of innovative healthcare and is much needed in the country.

Reimburse Only After Satisfactory Outcome

Another component of innovative healthcare should be the freedom for patients to reimburse health care providers only after they have been successfully treated. This not only builds trust between patients and doctors but also demands that physicians do their utmost to provide quality care to their patients. Finally, while India is a young and relatively underdeveloped country, the best quality health care in India is world class. This has led tens of thousands of those living overseas to travel to India and seek expert medical care. The health economy in India is blossoming as millions not only from developing countries but also from the developed world travel to India for high-quality medical care. Innovations in healthcare have made possible the emergence of India as a global healthcare destination.

Once the above-mentioned innovations are implemented in India it will not only lead to an increase in the lifespan of most Indians but will also increase the standard of living of Indians and create a healthier and more prosperous nation. This is why innovation in healthcare is essential.

Ashutosh Tiwari

Chairman, and Managing Director - Vinoba Bhave research institute

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