From the lop-sided distribution of hospitals and medical colleges in the country to the “flawed” concept of multiple-specialities under one roof — the healthcare sector is ailing, say consultants Technopak Advisors, in a recent study.

We have a healthcare crisis on our hands and the situation will get worse as the population and the demand on the sector increases, says Mr Arvind Singhal, Chairman of Technopak Advisors, concerned that there seems to be no urgency on the part of the powers-that-be to rectify the situation.

The availability, in absolute terms, of hospital-beds, doctors and nurses already shows the country needs to increase its numbers, he told Business Line , adding that, even if the Government doubled the number of medical seats, it would take about nine years to have a complete doctor working in the system.

Poor access

Close to half the medical colleges in the country are in the Southern States and the large, quality hospitals are centred in the top 12 cities.

About 45 per cent of the population travels more than 100 km to access higher levels of medical care; there are 13.7 lakh hospital beds, but only 50 per cent are functional and relevant. And over 80 per cent of healthcare spend is in the private sector and is predominantly unorganised and fragmented, the study said.

There is an absence of integrated hospital networks across the country, and none integrate financing and delivery of care.

The model is the “bigger (hospital) is better”, involving high capital costs, seemingly random expansion and lack of integration between primary, seconday and tertiary facilities, the study points out.

Growing urbanisation will also force policy-makers to think outside the box, he pointed out, as towns with a population of a million-plus will increase from 35 to 65 by 2018, the study said.

The share of average household spend on healthcare in India is expected to increase from seven per cent of $800 billion in 2010 to 10 per cent of $2,500 billion by 2020, the study said.

This is also because of increased household incomes, he added.

Shift to single speciality

The healthcare model will shift from the present mixture of super-speciality and multi-speciality chains to a more decentralised and single-speciality-oriented model, at a lower cost, he pointed out, adding that technology would play a major role in dispensing healthcare and ensuring compliance.