With online, on-demand, and high-speed access, empowering healthcare consumers can be done on tap
The Covid-19 pandemic has had a profound impact across various sectors, this includes the healthcare vertical as well, which has experienced a dramatic paradigm shift like never before.
All this while, the healthcare ecosystem in a densely populated country like India has largely been complex. The conundrum spreads across a plethora of industries that have one common objective – serving the healthcare needs of citizens of the countries that they operate in. These needs vary, payments made for services rendered, reimbursements for medicines and diagnosis, and so on.
Diagnosis & Health Insurance: An Overview
As medical and technological innovations speed up ever so quickly, and businesses transform, the already opaque perceptions that citizens have about their service providers are further clouded. Added to this is the fact that there may be certain dubious private players in the healthcare ecosystem who have vested business objectives and are corporations for profit.
For instance, the diagnostic laboratories market in India, which is still in its nascent stage and is highly fragmented. Currently, a large share of the market revenue is dominated by the unorganised sector. The highest numbers of such diagnostic labs are based in Tier-I cities, which is also the place for their reference labs. Moreover, due to a lack of regulations, there are hardly any barriers to entry. As a result, several labs have sprung up throughout the country. Most of them fail to adhere to protocols and lack accreditations. There is also a lack of price standardisation due to which there is a high level of discrepancies between diagnostic test prices of Tier-I and Tier-III cities.
As a result, there remains a dire need for strict regulations. With regulations in place, it would help bring about uniformity along with high-quality testing standards in the industry.
At the moment, the major drivers for the lab market include the high elderly population and the shift from non-communicable to communicable diseases in India. It needs to be noted that the radiology test market has evolved with the advancement in the existing technology of imaging machines such as PET-scan, which aided in a further clear diagnosis of the patient’s disease. In the case of pathology, the segment has gained dominance in the market considering that it is the preferred line of diagnosis for the majority of diseases prevalent in India, including infectious diseases.
Similarly, with the perception of risk changing due to the Covid-19 pandemic, it is anticipated that more people will look to take term insurance and an adequate health insurance cover going ahead. Also, most of the transactions will turn digital ensuring that there is no need for an individual to visit branches or the diagnostic centres.
Besides, finding customers, onboarding them, and Know Your Customer (KYC) will be through video-conferencing and other digital platforms. A standardisation of underwriting processes will be ushered in as much as possible.
Traditionally, Indian consumers have remained risk-averse. Now, the risk perception has changed dramatically. More people are thinking they are susceptible and are opting to take a fresh cover or top-up the existing policies to save on medical expenses.
It needs to be pointed out that the providers in the healthcare ecosystem are caught in a cost-shifting quagmire. And this blinds the consumers of healthcare services, who have no understanding of what is going on.
There remains a strong sense of trepidation when an individual encounters any of the health providers.
Digital Healthcare is the Way Forward
The answers to empowering consumers across the entire healthcare spectrum will reside with new flag-bearers. Technology companies, domain specialists, and content creators will converge to create the infrastructure of the future. Portals for comparing costs of healthcare services, rating of services, using teleservices for getting care closer to home are just small components of the technology-driven healthcare revolution that has already begun.
India is producing technology-driven unicorns and successful companies by the dozens, the traditional views of how businesses are run have been upended.
Digital healthcare transformation has arrived and it is an apt time to extend into the healthcare domain. With online, on-demand, and high-speed access, empowering healthcare consumers can be done on tap. Access to on-demand healthcare, insurance procured optimally, getting second opinions as needed, accessing details about the efficacies of the drugs being consumed, side effects thereof, comparing costs, will not just empower the consumers but may well change health outcomes in certain cases.
The acceleration of technology adoption of Augmented Reality (AR) and Virtual Reality (VR), Artificial Intelligence (AI), Blockchain, and Internet of Things (IoTs) just means that the empowerment of a consumer will be driven by innovation and by new-age companies.
As consumers of healthcare, it is high time to put to rest their fears, and if there is transparency while lifting the veil of opaqueness, it would be possible for them to make empowered choices.
This time around, it will be seen that the stakeholders of the healthcare ecosystem transform, an empowered consumer will ensure that they will focus on becoming consumer-centric, and ultimately lead to an optimisation of the national health infrastructure.
The author of this article, is Executive Director & CEO, Manorama Infosolutions Pvt Ltd (MIPL)
DISCLAIMER: Views expressed are the author's own, and Outlook Money does not necessarily subscribe to them. Outlook Money shall not be responsible for any damage caused to any person/organisation directly or indirectly.