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Q.1. What are the outcomes of the recent happenings in the healthcare industry?

Answer: Recent happenings in the healthcare industry

·         Increase in the income levels

The average Indian today has more disposable income than his counterparts a couple of decades ago. The private sector is paying the Indian youth well enough. This means that the Indians can now spend more on their family’s health. Recent surveys have shown that more and more people now go for a doctor’s advice rather than self-medicate. They do not want to take risks. As it is, the average family size in India has reduced. Every household now has two children compared to three or four children in the past. This means that the parents are more concerned about the health of an already small family.

·         Health insurance is picking up

This is another good sign. The number of people going for health insurance has increased in the last few years. If the future predictions are to be believed, the total private healthcare market will swell to 35000 crores from 2500 crores in the next 10 years. More and people will visit the private hospitals for better care, because the insurance will pay for them. This will change the healthcare marketing scenario to a great extent. Today the foreign insurance providers like AIG, Allianz, Prundential, etc. are allowed upto 26% stake in their partnerships with Indian companies. This is also likely to increase to 49% soon. If that happens, it will have an impact on the healthcare market as well. The foreign companies will come out with more attractive schemes and will be able to sell insurance to more and more people in India.

·         More private hospitals are being set up
In the recent years more and more doctors are setting up their own hospitals. There is a big increase in the number of privately owned hospitals. Not only this, the corporate hospitals are also being set up and upgraded every day. Many companies, who were traditionally not in the hospital industry, are also setting up hospitals. Modi group, [Ranbaxy [Fortis], Birla, Reliance, Wockhardt, etc. are a few names who have set up hospitals in India in the recent past. Fortis has become the second fastest growing chain of corporate hospitals in India. As the trend continues, the competition amongst the private players will keep increasing. More competition will mean more importance to the marketing of these hospitals. Hence marketing will be more and more relevant to the industry with every passing day.

·         Disease profiles are changing

 The average life expectancy of Indians has increased in the last two decades. This has happened as a result of advances made in the healthcare and disease management field. With cardiac surgery, neurosurgery, advanced diagnostics like latest MRI, echo, etc., the disease profile of the country has changed. As one famous surgeon of the 1970’s remarked when he was asked about the reason for more and more people getting gall stones, “the reason why more people get gall bladder stones these days is because the ultrasound machine has been invented! What he meant was that because of the ultrasonography, people are now being diagnosed with stones. If the machine was not there people may not even know that they have stones in their gall bladder. As it is, many gall stones are ‘silent’ and they do not cause any pain.

·          Global competition is taking place

 Not only the Indian hospitals are increasing in numbers day by day; the international market is also growing. Developing countries like India, Thailand, Chile, etc. are looking at creating services for the international patients. Not only this, the international players are looking at setting up facilities in India and the other developing countries. They are looking for joint ventures with local players in order to gain from the rapidly growing market.

·         Technological advancement is taking place
As you can see around you, the technological advancement is happening at a great pace. Latest therapies and machines are coming in every other day. Needless to say, modern technology and equipment are inevitably expensive. More expensive the equipment, higher the investment on the part of the hospital. As a result, the high investment equals high risk and that means the cost has to be covered and the profitability has to be ensured. This fact has catapulted the role of marketing of hospitals. The pressure on the marketing department to promote a particular service in the hospital, just because the hospital has incurred a heavy cost in acquiring the technology is high. The CEO will often demand that a particular department is not a profit center and has become a cost center for the hospital and therefore it has to be promoted in the market.
·         Awareness of the masses is increasing every passing day

With the information boom, the masses today are very informed. They know about their surroundings like the back of their hand. Today the cable TV shows at least five news channels and many houses have an access to internet, especially in the urban areas. Apart from that, the cell phones have made the flow of information very convenient and fast. Recently there was news of a hospital which had not discharged a patient just because her family could not pay the bill. Now, ten years ago, this news would not reach every nook and corner of the country. In the present day, the entire country watched it in the leading TV news channels. People in the hospital industry talked about it on their cell phones the next day.

·         Quality is the buzz word in healthcare

Another very important factor that is influencing the healthcare industry is the emphasis on quality and accreditation. A number of hospitals are working towards perhaps the most significant accreditation of all - the JCI accreditation [Joint Commission International]. It is a big deal to have a JCI accreditation, as it ensures world class quality healthcare. Today two corporate hospitals in India have JCI already. There are more than 20 hospitals aiming for today and the number is bound to grow. The smaller hospitals are going for ISO accreditation like never before. Even the small two room clinics of the private practitioners are deciding to go for ISO accreditation.

·         IT is being used extensively
We all know that this is the era of information technology. IT is being used in all industries and even in our day to day lives. There are a number of hospital management software packages aimed at providing various solutions to the healthcare service providers. From data entry to accounting, the packages are changing the face of hospital management. The service becomes better and it becomes easier to differentiate one hospital from another based on the superiority of services. 


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