4th AMCHAM Healthcare Conference – 16 September 2016
The 4th annual AmCham Healthcare Conference was held on 16th September in Hyderabad. The overall objective of the conference, as outlined by one of the key speakers, was to be a catalyst for change in the Indian healthcare ecosystem. In the same context, the theme of conference was ‘Harmonization of Indian Healthcare Within the Global Ecosystem.’ There were three panels, global harmonization, healthcare innovation and technology and skill development. To set the stage, the keynote speakers addressed the gaps and opportunities in Indian healthcare; each one of them highlighting the problems of access, affordability and quality and proposed solutions around the same; including existing solutions. It also highlighted some of the key learnings, not only from the West but from some of the lesser developed nations.
The panel on global harmonization focused on the role of standardization in solving the problems of access including last mile healthcare delivery. Standards for harmonization should be all inclusive and continually focus on innovation. We need to address some of the bottlenecks preventing medical technology reaching the end customer for whom it is intended. The panel also focused on the role of medical devices and the impact of regulation. Safety, clinical efficacy and affordability are equally important while deciding on any regulations. Healthcare standards should be made at a global level, flowing down to nations for reforms and adoption.
The panel on innovation and technology focused on current innovations in the healthcare landscape and their role in addressing some of the key challenges. It was also brought to light that some of these innovations should address problems at a larger scale, focus on smaller towns and sustainability. At the same time, the government could play a significant role in helping some of these business models reach the larger market. Technology should be both an enabler and a solution provider in healthcare innovation landscape. Innovation should focus on the acuity of need; in the Indian context problems such as anemia, malnutrition and some others are far more pronounced than others which current models in the market might be solving. As was rightly pointed out during the discussion, a better approach would be to identify problems and create innovative solutions rather than the other way round. Government could also play a key role in the same.
The last panel on skills development focused on the limitations of our current education system which may not be rightly positioned for skill development. Given the pervasive nature of the industry and woefully inadequate manpower resources, a radical suggestion emerged where every organization should mandatorily have healthcare related subject. It was also suggested that skilling can be a good enabler to solve the problem of healthcare access; case in point being high infant mortality. Training courses for midwives which is being initiated by some of the institutions could help solve this problem. It was highlighted that in terms of skill development, we could learn a lot from some of the African countries which have taken unique initiatives to solve similar problems; for instance, ‘ultrasound training program for midwives’ in Nigeria or NICU training for high school girls in South Africa.
The panel discussed about some of the major changes in mind-set required at all levels in our country. Our dependence on starting something new should not rely on support provided by the government. It is important to change our attitude towards skilling. Skill development should be equally rewarding to the person who undergoes training. Finally, in the light of global harmonization, the panel also discussed about creating a mutually rewarding ecosystem for Indian and international providers and universities in skill development.