Bangalore: Although India’s spending on health-care delivery and drugs will rise almost five times to $126 billion (Rs5.4 trillion) in 2015 from $27 billion in 2007, over 800 million of its poor will still struggle with medical costs, says a report by Institute for Business Value, or IBV, of International Business Machines Corp, or IBM. Citizens will bear most of the cost, just like today where out-of-pocket spending accounts for 78% of the overall spending, the report says.
“Escalating medical spending inflation, which increased more than 200% between 1995 and 2005, will increasingly force citizens to choose between public and private services, or to forego care altogether, except for life-threatening situations,” says Healthcare in India: Caring for more than a Billion, a proprietary study by IBV.
“This is the first comprehensive attempt to look at the drivers and inhibitors of change which also lays down some key models in health-care delivery and management,” says K.S. Raghunandan, director of solutions and business development at IBM India Pvt. Ltd.
Just like the Reserve Bank of India computerized banks in the 1990s when foreign banks started coming in, some apex Indian agency now needs to lead the way and lay down technology standards in health-care, says Mohammed H. Naseem, vice-president of health-care at IBM India. “Inter-operable standards in electronic health records, clinical management and other areas can reduce incremental cost.”
The report brings out this shortcoming. Private hospitals, it says, are increasingly investing in IT systems but most progress is in areas such as billing, accounting and administrative systems, rather than clinical information systems.
“It’s true. There’s no holistic solution in IT infrastructure because Indian companies provide piecemeal answers and we have to go to overseas companies that do not understand our requirements well,” says Devi Prasad Shetty, cardiac surgeon and promoter of Bangalore-based Narayana Hrudalaya Pvt. Ltd, which owns a chain of hospitals.
The report says India needs to stress on preventive health-care. “We know prevention is better than cure, but the extent to which it can be beneficial was a revelation,” says Raghunandan. The report says 329,670 cancer cases, 51.2 million cases of heart disease and 41.4 million diabetes cases can be prevented by 2015, if Indians adopt a healthy lifestyle.
IBM sells health-care solutions. IBV, however, is a separate entity.