Today, healthcare is one of the fastest-growing sectors showing sustained pace despite the slowdown affecting the economy. World over, this sector’s growth is spurred by the rising number of hospitals, medical device manufacturers, clinical trials, outsourcing companies, telemedicine providers, medical tourists, health insurance companies, and medical equipment manufacturers. Moreover, the surge in growth is maintained due to the efforts of public and private players to increase investments and to improve networks, services, and coverage.
A good healthcare system is important to reduce the burden on families and contribute to national growth. According to OCED Observer, a good healthcare system ensures a strong economy; in fact, their study showed that a mere 10% increase in life expectancy ensures an economic growth of around 0.4% per year. Developing countries are realizing the importance of healthcare and life expectancy playing a role in economic growth. Some of them have even become competitive with a large pool of well-trained medical professionals available and a steady investment in healthcare infrastructure. Today, the cost of treatment in many of these countries has come down significantly.
Debates still rage on whether making people spend on healthcare or subsidizing healthcare is a positive sign. In many societies, out-of-the-pocket hospitalization has exposed whole populations to huge cost burdens, giving rise to poverty. On the other hand, subsidization has made many private players cry foul, leading to decreased performance, corruption, and lack of competitiveness. Policymakers have to strike a very delicate balance in handling these issues. There are other challenges too. For instance, state-subsidized insurance is rarely given any attention by private players.
It is time that policymakers ensure that healthcare companies consider people as partners of growth rather than view them as markets. This will help healthcare to become more accessible, affordable and available. Presently, top notch healthcare remains a privilege and is focussed only on urban pockets. In fact, in most developing countries, a majority of people live in rural areas with little access to healthcare, yet they contribute to more than half their country’s GDP. The abysmal doctor-to-patient ratio in the rural areas of most developing countries remains a cause for concern. Technology, governmental initiatives, and community participation play an important role in giving perspective to healthcare organizations. In India, the government’s Aspirational District Program (ADP) works in empowering communities to rebuild their lives. The program reaches out to over 200 million people—about 15% of India’s population—engaging with communities to take responsibility for their own health and welfare. Today, ADP plays a major role in reducing maternal mortality rate and controlling other contagious diseases in the country. Another more important facet of ADP is the increased rate of economic development occurring in many regions of the country. In other words, ADP is proof that people’s healthcare goes hand-in-hand with their economic prosperity.
It is high time that the healthcare sector considers investing in people as the primary goal in measuring their success. Technology has opened up a lot more opportunities in serving people that many pharmaceutical companies have their own service agencies to reach out to the vulnerable population. In fact, they have been successful in reaching out to the rural population, improving their healthcare, and contributing to the economic growth of the region. Other healthcare companies can take a leaf out from such pharma companies and begin their out-reach programmes, thereby helping people help themselves to lead healthy lives and to contribute to the economic growth of the nation.