Healthcare, Doctor, and the Patient: Guest blogger Dr. Shalini Ratan

Healthcare is one of India’s largest sectors, in terms of revenue and employment, and the sector is expanding rapidly. It is going beyond its “institutional” role.

It is taking a transition from a “Disease-centric” to a “Patient-centric” approach. It is extending its role from treatment to prevention and up to healthy lifestyle. Today it is not only about medicine and treatment but also about self management, fitness, diet and wellness.

Healthcare users are continuously growing in number. One growth driver for this is India’s booming population, currently 1.1 billion and increasing at a 2% annual rate. This is due to a decline in infant mortality rate and extended longevity. The ageing of the population and the prevalence of chronic diseases is increasing the need for hospitalization. This would lead to an increase demand of doctors, nurses, pharmacists, beds and an increase in cost per treatment.

There is a rise in diseases like dengue fever, viral hepatitis, tuberculosis, malaria, and pneumonia. They have returned in force or have developed a stubborn resistance to drugs along with emergence of diseases such as AIDS as well as food- and water-borne illnesses.

Another growth marker is the expanding urbanization, and the increase in the[s2If !is_user_logged_in()]…

[/s2If][s2If is_user_logged_in()] middle class with more disposable income to spend on healthcare is yet another sign of growth.

People have become more conscious about healthcare, and there is a growing demand for better quality of care. Today, Indian patients are evolving as consumers with increased awareness of their health maintenance.

Healthcare is gradually coming to the patient’s doorsteps for early disease management. Healthcare clinics, health spas, wellness centers, and pharmacy chains are emerging as the innovative healthcare delivery models, to give better access to various support services to the people.

The medicine supply system is getting improved in the country by procuring generic drugs and distributing these for free to patients.

Newer technologies like diagnostic and imaging methods, better prescription drugs, transplants and innovative methods of performing surgeries are also changing the face of healthcare. Health information technology is becoming a strong connection between healthcare providers and consumers.

In this era of “Healthcare Boom,” the medical professionals face lot of challenges. This can be related to newer techniques, corporate hospitals, changing mindset of patients or current medical practices.

Today the patient is a consumer and is also well informed. He has needs as well as demands from the healthcare providers. Retaining patients and getting new referrals is more challenging today, unlike yesterday.

The time of the family physician where the patient was truly dependent on his doctor does not exist more. Now the patient is more open for a Second Opinion than being a loyal patient to a family doctor.

So with the changing time of healthcare and patients, even the medical professionals are required to have a re-look into the ways of Traditional Medical Practice. This would require a new approach towards Patient Satisfaction.

Medical Practice would need to get re-defined.

Silvio Bonfiglio: Changes in Healthcare: towards a “patient-centric” approach.

Emerging Market Report: Health in India 2007 Pricewaterhouse Coopers.

This article originally appeared on and has been republished with their permission.

Dr. Shalini Ratan Dr. Shalini Ratan, MD, is Founder and Chief Knowledge Facilitator at Nirvan Life Sciences Pvt Ltd. Mumbai, India.


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    Posted Aug 2013 at 2:44 pm | Permalink

    Health care boom and disease boom is true. There is definitely demand for health professionals. It doesn’t mean family doctor has no role. In India still family medicine need to be introduced and to be promoted. . Please see Cubs model. There the family doctor plays s vital role .In India the young graduates are attracted by specialization
    Mind set patients is changed. For minor ailments they look towards specialist .For example patient with headache consult with neurologist. There are poly pharmacy for minor things. .

    Even supply of generic medicines is still dream.
    The author should see PHCs how they are poorly managed. One should remember practicality of practice. Primary care needs revival. The super specialisation caused more harm than good. Let us not happy with disease boom. I have seen different situation in my service and practice. I really appreciate for certain aspects of article but family physician is the need of the hour in Indian situation. Please recommend for strong primary care.

  2. Arun Mehra
    Posted Aug 2013 at 7:48 pm | Permalink

    Dr Shalini,
    All this is possible due to the advances in technology that we have had in the last 2 decades.

    Unfortunately, the expectations of patients have have become very high, unrealistic at times. They believe that ANYTHING can be managed (read: cured). And doctors have played a part in creating such unreasonable expectations.

    Furthermore, many, many people associate quality with price, and believe it’s all a matter of money. I have myself come across situations where patients (attendants, actually) make statements like “we will pay any amount, just guarantee the patient will recover”. This probably follows from a mindset where people believe money makes them king, and it’s all the more true of those who have newly come into the affluent class.

    While we cannot change people’s mindsets, we have to see that we do not inadvertently contribute to creating such expectations either.

  3. Dr. Shalini Ratan
    Posted Oct 2013 at 4:43 pm | Permalink

    Valluri…I appreciate your comments. I also agree for the need of a primary physician which you have highlighted.

    Well here the point is about a Doctor’s approach towards the Patient…Specialist or Family Physician.

    One would need to widen the horizon from the traditional mindset towards the changing scenario. I have not mentioned that family physician is not required..I said that the dependence which patient had on a family physician is not seen today. There is lack of trust which once used to be there. So one would need to revive that.

  4. Dr. Shalini Ratan
    Posted Oct 2013 at 4:48 pm | Permalink

    Dr. Mehra…..Patients have changed as part of the developing Society. So even doctors today would need to shift from Profession to Professionalism.

    Regarding Quality and Price. They have always been together and will remain so. Now how much this should be applied in healthcare could be a question.

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