Kalyan Pothina, Procurement Head, Apollo Health and Lifestyle Limited

Indian healthcare scenario is today on the road to grow in exponential terms. With major healthcare providers opening up new arenas and giving more preference to patient-centric treatments, this sector has definitely witnessed much advancement. In terms of employment, specialties, or revenue, these advancements have global implications today. This growth is indicated to jump from USD 100 to USD 280 billion by 2020. These statistics can be further accelerated with increased digital adoption. Apart from that, many healthcare providers are now on the move to provide quality healthcare to remote locations, promoting accessibility and affordability. Apollo Health and Lifestyle Limited recognized the need for this very early and took the first steps in founding a retail healthcare format in India.

In comparison to the global healthcare market, India lacks in amenities, which in turn affect something as basic as a longer life expectancy rate. The public healthcare sector lags behind in terms of clean water, sanitation, adequate nutrition content, etc. Additionally, the amount of GDP set aside for healthcare expenditure is rarely utilized in its entirety. These discrepancies in the very functioning of the sector make India lag behind the rest of the developed nations in terms of healthcare.

As far as the budget for 2017 is considered, it is encouraging that the government has shifted attention toward poor health and the need to target affordability for all. Aadhar-card based smart cards that aim to monitor healthcare is a boost to the healthcare sector. Much emphasis has gone into the care of women and children, a well-needed move for today. Another good take away from this year's budget is the reduction in the cost of medical devices.

Investments from the government are what we look for in healthcare. There is a need to give attention to retail healthcare. There is an unequal distribution of human manpower and especially expert practitioners around India. Owing to the emphasis laid on accessibility in this year's budget, it only becomes imperative now to lay attention on retail healthcare, which makes doctors available round the clock. Even in terms of the specialty care provided in retail healthcare needs to see more light in the rural sector as well. As of now, this aspect of retail healthcare is very fragmented and there is a need to change the situation.

In recent years, the number of small outpatient healthcare clinics, also known as retail healthcare, has risen dramatically. New and innovative healthcare delivery models are coming in the market including planned surgical centers, like the ambulatory surgery centers in the US hospitals. Traditional and large healthcare facilities are falling out of fashion for non-critical healthcare needs, and in their place, a retail-based model of healthcare has started to appear. Smaller clinics mean greater convenience, better specialization, and a personalized experience for patients. Large healthcare centers, especially hospitals, are not always in ideal locations for patients. Smaller satellite clinics, scattered in a variety of locations, allow patients more convenient access to medical services, and bring medical care closer to communities that may be far from major hospitals. This patient-centric approach to medicine and the providers of healthcare is a sector that has much potential within it. As the Indian healthcare is moving from prescriptive to preventive healthcare, retail healthcare markets have much to offer. Patients who are now consumers of healthcare services are looking for specialists and do not want to settle for anything less than that. Recognizing the need of the hour, major healthcare players are bringing in their specialty doctors down to the street corner to ensure a seamless healthcare experience for the highly demanding healthcare shopper of the day.

As far as policies are concerned, it would be fitting to see government take initiative to look into research and innovation in the healthcare sector. This helps the healthcare service providers to expand their services and bring about innovative treatment options that are affordable as well as accessible. With digitization set to take over all sectors of the economy, it would be beneficial to see that healthcare also takes a part in it. Smart cards that monitor all health requirements on an individual basis are something we look forward to. This will not only create more authentic patient data but will also help the providers. It will become easier to notice patterns that are affecting the population most and how these can be best tackled will be given more consideration.

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