Commentary By: Dr. Shravan Subramanyam, Managing Director, Wipro GE Healthcare at GE Healthcare
The pandemic has significantly shifted the dynamics of the healthcare sector, bringing to the fore the impending need for developing the medical infrastructure in India for improved access and operations. Recognizing the gaps in the sector, the government has already launched several short-term and longer-term measures for the health system including the PLI scheme for boosting domestic manufacturing of medical devices under the Atmanirbhar Bharat initiative. The launch of the National Digital Health Mission (NDHM) and National Digital Health Blueprint (NDHB) also underlined the value that the government ascribes to digitisation in healthcare.
We firmly believe that an integrated, digital-first healthcare system will be pivotal to India’s overall healthcare industry in the forthcoming years to achieve a holistic care continuum and to ensure that quality, affordable, and personalised healthcare is accessible to all. However, to achieve this, we are looking forward to a larger emphasis from the government on R&D and innovation in healthcare tech, which will further provide impetus to the Make in India initiative. We are expecting the 2022-23 Union Budget to also focus on investments in digital tools to support patient care and hospital workflow. To provide a fillip to the MedTech sector in 2022, waiving off the duty & CESS, and releasing sectoral payment dues will free-up the working capital for investments in inventory of critical spare and lifesaving equipment.
Encouraging and supporting local manufacturing of healthcare equipment and devices will be critical in 2022 to achieve the target of increasing healthcare spending to 3% of the country’s GDP.
Additionally, disruption in the global supply chain has now provided opportunities for large-scale manufacturing in India. We believe that continued focus on innovation and R&D, local manufacturing and digital technologies will enable India to become self-reliant.
As we aim to move towards Universal Healthcare Coverage, ecosystem collaboration for both public and private sectors, will be essential. Supporting and utilizing public-private partnerships efficiently will help drive access to care for non-communicable diseases, including appropriate funds for women’s healthcare, oncology, and cardiovascular research and care. We hope the endeavor to enhance the competitiveness of the industry would remain on the economic agenda.