India’s Shaky Healthcare System

The Wall Street Journal’s India edition carries an article about improving local healthcare.  The writer hit on a few good points about overhauling India’s shaky healthcare system.  Any country can benefit by implementing the article’s suggestions, which aim to heal the system’s functioning.

The first good idea is to increase spending. Currently, only 1% of India’s gross domestic product is spent on healthcare. Governments the world over should prioritize healthcare, and put their money where their mouths are by increasing payments to the healthcare industry.  Governments are established to lead and care for citizens; maintaining citizens’ good health is crucial to their mission.  The health system is an excellent repository for the governments’ tax revenues.

Spending more on primary care is also wise. Widely championed by medical professionals, the revolutionary concept of preventing disease instead of grappling with advanced illnesses should be adopted by every nation. Basic check-ups and health education go a long way, toward a healthier population and reduced healthcare payments.

Like the article’s author, I appreciate the money-saving notion of buying drugs in bulk. In India, as in the U.S., out-of-pocket spending on prescription drugs takes a hefty bite out of people’s incomes. Governments that buy large quantities of drugs are able to provide free or low-price medications to their citizens. Granted, this step would require the government to increase its healthcare expenditures, but in a thrifty, economical manner.

Every nation can learn to improve its healthcare habits. Spending money on healthcare in a thought-out manner will lead to improved financial and physical health.  Even more important is for governments to start exploring more innovative ways to deliver health care.  Technology has advanced to the point where care can be provided from miles away and even from another hemisphere. Hospital design and construction anywhere in the world should include cutting-edge technologies that bring patients the best care.

Star Health Network is a US based company that is providing US caliber care to India’s population.  In the simplest of terms, they are a “virtual” Doctors Without Borders.  They provide Western expertise through doctor-to-patient and doctor-to-doctor consultations.  Their proprietary web-based interfaces, distance diagnostics and clinical trials use the best that technology has to offer.

Governments, NGO’s and health systems can learn from companies like Star Health and embrace the use of cyberspace in patient care, diagnostics and treatments.

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