What do we mean by access to healthcare?
Access (to healthcare) is defined by the Oxford dictionary as “The right or opportunity to use or benefit from (healthcare)”.
Access includes affordability, availability as well as quality. It means that people — irrespective of their economic status or geographical location in a country — are able to easily afford healthcare services that are effective. For example, take the National Health Service (NHS) of the United Kingdom.
A serious drawback of India’s health service is the negligence of rural masses as the doctors are unwilling to serve in rural area. It is largely a service based on urban hospitals. Although, there are large no. of PHC’s and rural hospitals yet the urban bias is visible. According to health information 31.5% of hospitals and 16% hospital beds are situated in rural areas where 75% of total population resides.
Besides that, the growth of health facilities has been highly imbalanced in India. Rural, hilly and remote areas of the country are under served while in urban areas and cities, health facility is well developed. The poor people are far away from modern health service which makes things difficult for them. As prices of various essential drugs have gone up, more emphasis should be given to the alternative systems of medicine.
The most important problem is, in India there is shortage of medical personnel like doctors, nurses etc. The number of hospitals and dispensaries is insufficient in comparison to our vast population. Number of doctors in India is almost half (1.15 mn total and 0.9mn active) of its requirement (2 mn). The Doctor-Population ratio is 1:1445, lower than WHO’s minimum requirement 1:1000; whereas, most of the developed nations have a much higher ratio. If the coronavirus pandemic reminds us of anything, it is of the importance of adequate healthcare capacity and the need for an aggressive approach to public health. India needs to build this capacity on a war footing. Creating more doctors, nurses, hospitals and medical equipment stock is not only necessary for our health, but also for our economic health. A manifold public investment in healthcare infrastructure is an effective, efficient and equitable way to stimulate economic growth in the short and medium-terms. India needs to double the number of doctors to meet the world average, which means, we need at least 10 lakh more. This cannot be done overnight. If we plan to fix the shortage over a 10-year period, we need to produce at least one lakh additional doctors every year. Although the intake has improved over the past few years, the total annual intake is still around 70,000 per year. In other words, we need at least 30,000 additional medical seats to be added every year.
Few Companies who are dealing with Health Care problems in India are:
Portea Medical, India’s largest home healthcare company, is headquartered in Bengaluru and was founded in 2013 to cater to such a demographic. The company, with a 60 per cent customer base of those over 60, allows the elderly to avail high-quality care and support services from the comfort of their homes, reducing their hospital visits, travel time and costs related to health, while also being remotely monitored by their families. The services provided by them are home health care that includes doctor consultation, nursing, elderly care, physiotherapy, diagnostic tests, etc.
Docprime aims to provide services on the tenets of utmost privacy, affordability, and easy accessibility to patients in India. Moreover, the company aims to provide high-quality healthcare services by tapping into fairly larger pool of India’s top medical personnel and professionals. Furthermore, by making an appointment through the platform, patients stand to save up to 50% on the appointment booking costs. The services provided by them are diagnostic tests, online doctor appointments and consultations.
Mediniz is an online health care platform that connects people with the right doctors and ensures better experience for all. It is headquartered in Kolkata and specializes only in primary and secondary care delivery. It offers easy, seamless and personalized access to quality and affordable care on demand through its website and mobile apps. The services provided by them are online doctor appointments and consultations.
Practo is a health tech company based out of India and aims to connect the fragmented medical community with millions of patients across the country. Practo has made information more accessible by creating a platform that allows doctors to list their services and manage patient interactions and provides an array of services for patients, mainly for booking interactions with doctors and maintaining a consistent medical history. The services provided by them are selling medicines and other health care products online, diagnostic tests, online doctor appointments and consultations etc.
Lybrate is a platform for medically authenticated answers to queries. When one asks a question, it is completely anonymous and doctors do not know that person’s identify. The chat app has the same design as WhatsApp as it would bring the same familiarity to the chat system, making it user friendly and a patient can make payment within the app. Lybrate also works on another angle where doctors can post health tips. As a user one can customize these health tips according to his interest. The services provided by them are selling medicines and other health care products online, diagnostic tests, online doctor appointments and consultations etc.