When you hear a highly respected and Internationally renowned name in the Medical fraternity, Dr. Devi Prasad Shetty say this, you sit up and take note.
This statement was made by Dr. Shetty during a panel discussion organized by Global Health Strategies. The panel discussion was organized with the objective of increasing engagement between the Entrepreneurs and the Clinical fraternity on one side and the Media on the other. This would then have the second order effect of highlighting the Innovations in the national mainstream media and therefore help bring the Innovations to the mainstream consciousness.
The other panelists were Dr. Kristian Olson (@kristianolson1), Director of CAMTech from Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston, Mr. Rajeev Gowda (@rajeev-gowda-94a76a), MP from Bangalore, Ms. Ramya Kannan (@ramya-kannan-73ab6311) bureau chief from The Hindu and myself, an Entrepreneur running Aindra Systems.
This panel discussion, attended by an interesting mix of Journalists, Editors, Entrepreneurs, Eco system partners and Corporate Heads, dwelled on the challenges that were prevalent in the country in making many of the Innovations in the Indian Healthcare, accessible and equitable to the entire population. A key discourse was also about how the media could play a vital part in ensuring the above objectives were met.
It was during his opening remarks that Dr. Shetty made some very interesting points including the one stated in the Headline of this blog. His grasp of trends in his industry at a macro national and international level is phenomenal. His suggestions on how to improve the supply side constraints (number of Clinicians) by empowering the ones with basic clinical training from across the AYUSH spectrum and train them to an intermediate level of expertise, could go a long way in improving the patient to doctor ratio in India. He cited the example of how the Maternal Mortality Rate (MMR) in Maharashtra was brought down to less than half the national average by following this method.
While these ideas from him were to increase the supply of qualified medical professionals, other extremely forward looking statements ranged from how in the near future, basic diagnosis would be done by Artificial Intelligent machines and softwares. Terri Bresenham (@terribresenham), CEO and President of GE Sustainable Healthcare Solutions, had a very interesting question to Dr. Shetty about how soon would healthcare move to a D-I-Y model with patients using advanced medical systems to diagnose themselves and only seek confirmation from a human doctor at their convenience of time and location.
Dr. Kristian Olson, who as Director of CAMTech has a vantage position in seeing multiple Innovations in healthcare across multiple geographies, deliberated on how it was imperative for such Innovations to achieve scale in order to achieve the intended Impact. And structural enablers like Govt. Policies, Eco system partners, the Public and Private healthcare providers would all need to work together to help startups innovating in healthcare, achieve the scale that is required to make a meaningful impact.
Prof Rajeev Gowda, the speaker representing the Govt. was asked pertinent questions by some people in the audience on what policies the Govt had, to help proliferate the innovations across the healthcare spectrum in the country. He of course, handled these questions with aplomb and candidly accepted that while the Govt. has started many initiatives in this direction, it still remains a Work-In-Progress and the policy makers would actively seek suggestions from the stakeholders to have a meaningful engagement with all the stakeholders.
My take on this ? My thoughts are, and I did bring this up in the panel discussion, that India is poised at a great juncture where we have the opportunity as a nation, to leapfrog many of the evolutionary steps that other developed economies took in advancing their healthcare systems. And the constraints that we have as a nation, will drive creativity in coming up with systems that work for the context of India. And what works for India, would very much be applicable to economies similar to our’s. Having said this, it would entirely depend on all the stakeholders involved (Policy makers, Private Healthcare, Public Healthcare, Entrepreneurs, Eco system partners and the Media) being able to work harmoniously to change the Status Quo that exists.
But then the Billion Dollar question. Do we, as a nation, have the willingness to do what it takes to leapfrog and become an example for the rest of the world ? If yes,what should be our approach towards achieving this goal.
I would love to hear perspectives on this. Even contrarian ones are welcome.