Healthcare services: a fundamental foundation for any society and economy

By Meghna Misra-Elder

In India, the Healthcare sector is a major employer with significant potential for further development and employment. Despite the employment of five million people in India’s healthcare sector, the country’s density of health professionals is low compared to countries like Sri Lanka, China, Thailand, the United Kingdom and Brazil, according to a World Health Organisation database.

Based on recent WHO health workforce data, the rising demand for health services worldwide was expected to generate around 40 million new jobs for health workers by 2030 even before the world was hit by the COVID-19 pandemic. This demand was mainly due to come from high and middle-income countries. Other estimates suggested additional job creation due to multiplier effects in related industries, including important opportunities for the establishment and sustainability of small and medium-sized enterprises.

Post COVID-19, this demand has become even more pronounced, accelerating the need for technology in various aspects of healthcare. This in turn has accelerated the pace of technological disruption with many traditional services being digitised, resulting in the creation of new jobs and requiring substantial skilling and upskilling of workforces.

In India too, living with the pandemic has brought forward the urgency to revamp its already struggling healthcare system and further improve it to tackle any future health crisis. India is already seen as being relatively advanced in developing and adopting technology across various sectors.

According to the Future Health Index (FHI) 2019 report, India is already a leader in the adoption of digital health technology with 76% of healthcare professionals in the country already using digital health records (DHRs) in their practice. At the same time, this report says that about 49% of Indians say they know nothing at all about the benefits of digital health technology or mobile health apps in healthcare – a worrying statistic.

The use of technology within healthcare is no doubt already showing benefits but also raises many questions around the availability and safe access to data, having the right regulatory and legal framework and most importantly the availability of suitably trained workforce.  Therefore educating, training and upskilling community and health professionals can drastically improve the quality of care, patient outcomes, and tackle employment issues by opening up more opportunities.

To further discuss the existing infrastructure, future trends, challenges and opportunities within the health and social care sector in India we will be talking to organisations like Healthcare Sector Skills Council, Department for International Trade, Pearson, and Apollo to gather their views before engaging with the relevant decisionmakers in both countries to talk about collaboration.

Please contact Meghna Misra-Elder, UKIBC sector lead, if you are interested in joining the group.

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