The COVID-19 pandemic did not just bring into focus the fact that the healthcare sector is the backbone of a country but also opened a floodgate of opportunities for the country to head towards a more resilient and robust healthcare system, one that is capable of not only fighting the current situation but also in safeguarding populations against the any unanticipated challenges. As a crisis of such magnitude engulfed the nation, the past year saw India undergoing a paradigm shift from the traditional legacy systems to cloud-based applications. The crisis proved to be a catalyst for increased adoption of digital healthcare systems across the world. To discuss more about this COVID-19 triggered transformation in the Indian health ecosystems, FICCI and KPMG in India have come out with a report titled – “COVID-19 induced healthcare transformation in India”. This report deep dives into the major disruptors and technological interventions that were triggered by the pandemic, expediting the approach towards a more affordable, accessible and equitable health system.
As per the Union Budget 2021–22, the total public health sector allocation stood at 1.2 percent of the GDP, it is expected to increase to 2.5 percent of GDP by 2024–25. In light of this, the report lists six thematic areas that require immediate deliberation and gives actionable recommendations, in view of need for greater investment in enhancing health outcomes and a strategic diversion of funds towards sustaining these outcomes.
The onset of the COVID-19 pandemic was an unanticipated occurrence, which transpired into the most devasting international health emergency of the century and sent shockwaves across global healthcare and economic structures. While India too faced a plethora of challenges, a strategically curated and proactive response strategy enabled it to limit the impact and raise the rate of recovery to almost 98 per cent – one of the highest in the world. The Pandemic also paved way for India to demonstrate unprecedented resilience and dynamism in terms of system strengthening and rapid policy making as well as unified efforts by all stakeholders. Starting out with only one testing laboratory at the beginning of the Pandemic to reaching almost 3,000 in October 2021 and having administered almost 14 percent of the total COVID-19 vaccine doses administered worldwide, India has continued to achieve record-breaking numbers in many spheres of the pandemic response strategy. This report has attempted to bring out more such takeaways from the health crisis and the subsequent response management in India and highlighted how these interventions should not be one-time efforts but should have potential to create long lasting impact on the Indian health system.
Dr Alok Roy, Chair, FICCI Health Services Committee & Chairman, Medica Group of Hospitals says, “The COVID-19 pandemic exposed weaknesses in our health systems and amplified already existing challenges pertaining to gaps in health infrastructure, workforce and accessibility and equity in health services. But at the same time, it also reinforced an urgent need to make greater investments in augmenting health preparedness and quality of care.”
Lalit Mistry, Partner and Co-Head – Healthcare Sector, KPMG in India says, “The COVID-19 pandemic has transformed the way the government and private healthcare players are responding to changing healthcare needs. The country has witnessed unprecedented speed of health system strengthening, cohesive efforts by all stakeholders, digital health adoption and innovation from all walks of life. Going forward the success would lie in how recent initiatives and learnings are institutionalised into building a resilient health system”.
The report also goes on to underline a strategic way forward for a more rounded approach to ensuring pandemic preparedness and health systems strengthening – from the importance of leveraging private sector as a partner in healthcare to embedding digital health as a core component of the health landscape.