Innovations in healthcare will strengthen patient safety: Lav Agarwal

Lav Agarwal, Addl. Secretary, Ministry of Health & Family Welfare, Government of India, while delivering the keynote address at a panel discussion on ‘New Age Healthcare for a New India’ 

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New Delhi: “I expect innovations in healthcare will strengthen patient safety and bring the focus of health interventions to patient centricity, which will be the key differential for propelling the health industry to become more efficient,” said Lav Agarwal, Addl. Secretary, Ministry of Health & Family Welfare, Government of India, while delivering the keynote address at a panel discussion on ‘New Age Healthcare for a New India’.
A report titled “Surgical Care in India- An insight of Patients’ Experience,” prepared jointly by Internet and Mobile Association of India’s (IAMAI) and the Bureau of Research on Industry and Economic Fundamentals (BRIEF), was released at the event.
“India already has a head start in terms of creating a digital health ecosystem and with launch of Ayushman Bharat Digital Mission (ABDM), we have created a very strong foundation for holistic development of the health sector and brought to fore the role technology can play in health. Equally important is to focus on health infrastructures strengthening with private sector participation”, Shri Agarwal added.
According to the survey report most surgical patients preferred private hospitals. “The patients’ selection of Healthcare Service Providers was more towards private hospitals (83%), followed by trust hospitals (9%) and government hospitals (8%),” the survey report found.
Other speakers at the panel were Dr Vaibhav Kapoor, Chair, IAMAI Sub Committee on NewAge Model in Surgical Care, and Co-Founder, Pristyn Care, Dr Alexander Kuruvilla – Co-Chair, IAMAI HealthTech Committee & Chief Healthcare Strategy Officer, Practo, and Mr. Archit Garg, Co- Founder & Director, Glamyo Technologies.
Speaking about the report, Dr Alexander Kuruvilla said, “With 80% of the 20 million surgeries performed in India falling under secondary care, this survey report clearly articulates the patient expectations and gaps that currently exist. It will further help the industry develop models that democratize access to quality healthcare while ensuring a better patient experience.”
Dr Vaibhav Kapoor said, “I hope IAMAI – BRIEF’s insightful study focusing on ‘The Patient`s Experience of Surgical Care in India’ will pave the way for the healthcare ecosystem to better engage with patients, by delivering need-based, personalized solutions anytime, anywhere. The various benchmarks clearly defined in the study will hopefully enable India’s healthcare providers to design and roll out a truly patient-centric, universal care ecosystem, and deliver enhanced clinical outcomes at affordable costs.”
The report is based on personal interviews with 280 patients who were under surgical treatments between 2019 to 2022 across six cities including Delhi, Chennai, Mumbai, Ahmedabad, Kolkata, and Bengaluru. About 50% of the patients interviewed were private sector employees with the maximum belonging between the age groups of 21-30 and 31-40.
The survey concluded that just about 22% of patients were covered under health insurance. Overall satisfaction level with the healthcare services for surgery stood at 2.89 out of 5. The report identified areas of patient expectations and gaps including poor assistance, lack of transparency regarding treatment costs, higher surgery costs and affordability, difficulty in identifying healthcare service providers, and non-availability of advanced surgical treatment facilities in non-metro cities.
Following are some of the other important findings of the Report:
  • Out of 280 patients, 196 patients (72%) had elective surgery.
  • 224 patients (81%) underwent surgery for the first time.
  • Reported Surgeries included Knee Replacement, Laparoscopic Hernia Surgery, Ear Surgery, Nasal Polypectomy, Sphincterotomy, Appendectomy, Ovarian Cyst, LASIK Surgery and Cataracts, and Cholecystectomy.
  • About 38% of patients incurred surgery costs in the range of INR 50,000 to INR 1,00,000, followed by 29% of patients below INR 50,000. On the question related to the affordability of the surgery cost, 37% of patients reported it as non-affordable.
  • 37% of patients and 72% of patients reported getting pre-surgery counselling and post-surgery counselling respectively.