Countries strive to deliver affordable healthcare to their own citizens while trying to maintain the highest possible quality Multispecialty Hospitals. In a country like India, with constraints on resources, dual goals of cost-effective and quality healthcare for everyone poses challenges. Although many hospitals have now excelled at drastic re-modeling of their healthcare delivery models, they are in the high-end price segments.
With a growing population as well as a low GDP, there is unfortunately little room for investing in healthcare infrastructure and multispecialty hospitals for all. There is also an acute shortage of doctors in remote areas, outside metropolitan cities of the country. Repeatedly, governments have tried to fix this with patchwork solutions by opening more specialty hospitals, but this hasn’t bridged any gaps between supply and demand. Such hospitals are unaffordable for the majority of India’s population.
The rapid rise in the existence of chronic diseases which are non-communicable threatens to become an emergency if healthcare demands aren’t met.
Healthcare is the Backbone of Society
Primary healthcare is of the utmost importance and should be the backbone on which a country’s healthcare system is built. The vast number of Indians who await hospital-based tertiary care are in limbo. These people suffer from illnesses like cancer and cardiac disease. Senior cardiac surgeon, Devi Shetty of Narayana Health states that in a country of India’s proportions, at least 2 million heart surgeries need to be performed annually. A lakh, a small fraction, of surgeries are performed on wealthy patients, who can well afford expensive multispecialty hospitals, and heart facilities to meet their needs.
What do the rest do? They wait their turn, endlessly, suffering at government hospitals. Government hospitals neither have the staff nor the equipment to handle patients in the way that illnesses demand. In these overstretched facilities, patients die before they get the care that is so urgently required. The Lancet, a medical journal, states that nearly 2.4 million Indians die every year due to inaccessible appropriate healthcare. In the modern age in which we live, the demands of an excessively stressful lifestyle of a rapidly growing population lead to more diseases and illnesses, warranting more medical care facilities.
The Multispecialty Hospitals Model
A tertiary healthcare facility, in the most conventional sense, is a general hospital that offers treatment to everyone and manages everything, from diagnostics to complicated multi-specialty treatments, to straightforward procedures in all medical disciplines. A large majority of patients require the latter category of services of one standardized specialty procedure. The multispecialty hospital, or what is called a general hospital in the West, works in developed countries because affordability is easier in those countries, either through a state welfare system, or insurance. In India, the multispecialty system tends not to work in an effective way, because complex and straightforward treatments are brought under a single roof without balancing costs. Indian hospitals try to do too much under one roof, thereby needlessly inflating costs and impairing quality treatment in return.
This model is capital-intensive, resulting in hospitals turning into bureaucracies. Multispecialty hospitals in India are doctor-centric facilities in the way they are run when they should focus on patient care first. High fixed costs further bloat the price of treatment. Many multispecialty facilities do have units for low-income groups, but these do not correspond, in numbers, to the huge population of India. The problem with multispecialty care is the inability to relate the costs of input to the value of output. The urgent need is to set up quality healthcare systems for each segment of society or to scale up government hospitals in such a way that every Indian gets the treatment that they deserve. Focused healthcare units, with standardized quality facilities (those more in demand), can be affiliated to multispecialty hospitals, with affordability for lower-income groups in mind.
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