By Rajiv Mishra
Union Budget 2021-22 Expectations for Healthcare: The upcoming 2020-21 Union Budget has the potential of being a game-changer for the Indian Healthcare Sector. Technology has already proved its mettle during the pandemic and digital health. Be it efficient management of COVID-19 and vaccination or achieving the goal of Universal Health Coverage, Digital Health would be great enablers with the right policy push.
The Budget 2020-21 needs to focus on the expansion of digital healthcare that has great potential to make healthcare more affordable and accessible by using technology to reach out the last mile. In the areas of primary and secondary care, diagnostics-Imaging, vaccination, and standardization of services digital health plays a critical role. For only these areas but now digital health caters to the entire continuum of care, starting from admission to discharge and post-discharge period too.
The Centre had announced a very ambitious National Health Policy in 2017 and it envisaged doubling of public spending in the health sector from 1.15 % of the GDP to 2.5% by 2025. However, the budgetary allocations for health in 2018-19 and 2019-20 only witnessed a marginal increase (nearly 5%). The need to strengthen our healthcare infrastructure including digital health has been fortified with the covid-19 crisis. The healthcare sector expects the Government to start spending an extra 0.5% of GDP every year on health for the next five years.
The COVID-19 crisis taught a great lesson and spending in the sector has been witnessing a surge that was never there. Year on Year India used to spend less than even some of our neighbouring countries. COVID-19 has brought to the forefront the need to strengthen the healthcare infrastructure in India. The pandemic has accelerated the adoption of technological disruptions and it has also given momentum to the usage of digital solutions as a viable option to conventional care delivery systems.
Hence, India desperately needs a unique solution especially higher public spending to deal with its healthcare sector challenges, and digital technology offers one of the most efficient solutions to this. Digital solutions would certainly help in creating a comprehensive and integrated healthcare ecosystem in the country and support the patients to get access to high-quality and cost-effective care.
The government has already made significant progress in this journey and in August 2020, the Prime Minister had announced the launch of the National Digital Health Mission (NDHM) that aims to create a robust digital health ecosystem. Catalyzing a shared digital infrastructure is the need of the hour and a policy push to it under the Mission is strongly recommended. Such an infrastructure would help us in leveraging both public and private enterprises to provide innovative solutions. For a robust digital health ecosystem,…
Read More: Budget 2021 Expectations for healthcare: Digital Health needs right policy push