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Healthcare sector can plug gaps in medical services with PPP model: expert

Nandita Vijay, Bengaluru
Saturday, February 25, 2023, 08:00 Hrs  [IST]

Healthcare industry, which is currently undergoing a major transformation across the world, is looking to move away from traditional models of service to cater to the patient needs in a fast paced manner.

In this difficult scenario, public-private partnerships (PPPs) can be beneficial in addressing gaps, said Dr Arjun Kalyanpur, chief radiologist and founder-CEO, Teleradiology Solutions.

The government's extensive public health network presents an opportunity for innovation, which can be effectively leveraged by private enterprises. Private sector investment can generate significant funding to construct top-quality facilities in India that can benefit the general public and provide the hub for further widespread healthcare coverage to provide high-quality care at affordable prices. New technologies, such as telemedicine and teleradiology introduced by private institutions can enhance healthcare access for people in rural India, he added.

Although PPPs in healthcare can offer significant benefits, there are also some potential disadvantages to consider. PPPs can present accountability challenges, with both the public and private partners having different goals and incentives. This can lead to disputes, delays, and even project failure. The government may have limited control over the private sector partner's operations, which can lead to concerns over quality control and service delivery. And ensuring reimbursement of the private provider by the governmental department can be a herculean task, Dr Kalyanpur told Pharmabiz.

While PPPs can be a powerful tool to improve healthcare access, careful consideration of the operational, technical and economic benefits and potential risks is essential to ensure that the collaborations deliver the intended benefits for all stakeholders, he noted.

For example, the healthcare system in Tripura operates on a three-tier system, under the ministry of health and family welfare of the Government of India, which offers universal healthcare coverage to citizens of the state. However, around 65.6% of the population reject government healthcare facilities due to several issues, such as poor quality of care, distance, long waiting times, and inconvenient hours of operation. In addition, radiology departments in government hospitals revealed that 56% of centers function without heads of department and 45% of the centers are understaffed, said Dr Kalyanpur.

In our case, we recognized this as an opportunity and secured a 5-year contract with Webel Electronic Communications Systems through a government tender by the Tripura State Health and Family Welfare Society. The system went live on September 15th, 2016, and since then, 29 sub-divisional and community health centers and district hospitals in Tripura have been benefited from teleradiology services, resulting in a total of 1,11,030 radiographs read by radiologists located in Bengaluru, Hyderabad, New Delhi, and other cities

Our work in Tripura taught us about the efficacy of collaborations in the healthcare sector. From our cloud-based teleradiology reporting infrastructure, we were able to provide high quality radiology diagnostic services to remote part of the entire state, including the largely tribal population in the north-east. The existing government run public health network, which was otherwise grossly underutilized, provided the foundation for the project. Our learning has been that such collaborations are crucial for improving healthcare services in our country, said Dr Kalyanpur.


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