Mr Manasije Mishra, Managing Director, Indian Health Organisation and Aetna India shared his detailed viewpoint on what ails Indian healthcare system, solutions and the role his organization is playing to make these work on the ground.
Enjoy reading the interesting Q&A below:
How do you look at the state of the public healthcare system in India? What are the key elusive challenges that lie before it?
The Indian healthcare system is characterized by a lack of access to a robust primary care system, increasing medical expenses and a poor doctor to patient ratio. The neglect of primary care is one of the key reasons for increasing disease burden and medical costs. In Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) countries, primary care plays a very important role. A recent report of the OECD and European Commission on the State of Health, points to constant improvement in the primary care accessibility that resulted in the increase of life expectancy by 6 years. If India can gather the learnings and develop a robust primary health care infrastructure, I believe this will significantly reduce the pressure on the health care system.
What could be achieved by integrating technology with primary health care? What role is Aetna playing here?
Globally, technology is making health care affordable and accessible. In the next few decades, the idea of driving to a doctor’s clinic, waiting and physically meeting the doctor will be obsolete. Technology, including smart phones, remote sensors, connected devices, will provide access to digital primary care services. While technology can simplify access to the primary healthcare system, a critical component for success in India will be the delivery of quality care that can win trust amongst people. A service that can become first point of contact for any health related issues where they can get the right diagnosis, treatment or guidance to manage health effectively.
The objective of vHealth by Aetna is to deliver end-to-end primary care as per international quality standards. At its heart are our own doctors based in a state of the art telemedicine center. They are supported by 16,500 clinicians in our medical partner network which includes dentists, diagnostic centers, specialist doctors, medical centers, hospitals and pharmacies. With this ecosystem, we organize blood tests and medicine delivery at the patient’s home, refer them to appropriate specialists for consultation in their vicinity at a discounted fee.
“Globally, technology is making health care affordable and accessible. In the next few decades, the idea of driving to a doctor’s clinic, waiting and physically meeting the doctor will be obsolete”
How has the international experience and protocols helped Indian healthcare? Kindly share few experiences with our readers.
Most of us have a tendency to ignore symptoms, self-medicate and if things get serious, directly visit a specialist. This behavior leads to poor health outcomes. Identifying the root cause to your medical problem or symptoms at the right time is a critical factor to get back to good health. This is exactly what vHealth does through its clinical partnership with Medgate AG, a Swiss market leader in telemedicine. Our clinical protocols help doctors to probe in a systematic way and unravel relevant points. This information along with medical history, photographs, and test reports enable us to diagnose, treat or make referrals. We use their Patient Management Systems, detailed medical and training protocols, customized for India.
Our team of doctors at vHealth has completed over 6000 consultations till now and in over 70 percent of the cases, our doctors have been able to provide diagnosis and treatment remotely. Patients have been delighted that they were able to get the undivided attention from our doctors for over 20 minutes and with our follow up. Many patients have also quoted that we have been successful in identifying the root cause of their long-standing medical problems.
Apart from managing acute and chronic patients, we have helped to diagnose cases like hemochromatosis (iron overload), gastric cancer, triple vessel disease, nephrology, Parkinson-plus and more. This has made possible due to the detailed medical protocols, quality time and our end-to-end ecosystem of diagnosis and specialist referrals.
Does the health consultation system actually work in India where a huge population in rural areas are still grappling with basic healthcare issues? What is IHO doing in that area?
In a global mHealth adoption study conducted by PwC in 2012, India was ranked 2nd among the developing countries in terms of maturity. The study established that consumers in developing countries like India have high expectations for digital healthcare and 60 percent of the consumers strongly believe that mhealth will improve the convenience, cost, and quality of their healthcare. There is a widespread access to mobile/telephone that can enable people to access quality medical services on phone and get proper treatment and advice.
It is true that the rural population is likely to benefit from our vHealth service. The challenge is distribution and reach. We are working with our network partners to solve this problem and deliver vHealth to rural India at a reasonable cost. Watch this space as this is still work in progress.
“Patients have been delighted that they were able to get the undivided attention from our doctors for over 20 minutes and with our follow up”
Please tell us about the latest activities at Indian Health Organization? What are the top areas of priority for the organization?
We at Indian Health Organisation are focused on making quality health care accessible in India. With this objective, we have services that cater to different needs of our customers in India. Eg: Preventive, curative, dental and holistic family health solutions. The Classic consultation membership that we launched at the end of 2016 is highly successful in the market with over 1.25 lakh members enrolled in just 6 months. This product enables families to reduce their day-to-day (OPD) medical expenses by at least 50 percent.
Our recent launch vHealth by Aetna provides unlimited teleconsultation for a family of four members and access to discounted medical partner network for a modest price of INR 2400 per year. By using vHealth as the first point of contact for any health concern or query, our members can get appropriate treatment, guidance, and motivation to navigate through the complex healthcare system.
Our new product pipeline looks strong and we’ll soon be introducing services focused on chronic diseases.