Charity Funding for Better Healthcare in India

By: Rajiv Tewari. Updated article. Based on a conversation with Commander Navneet Bali, Group COO, IOSPL (Cancer Therapy Centre).

In-spite of a huge scaling up of the healthcare treatment facilities, a large number of patients remain untreated in India and many more reach the healthcare facilities when its too late. According to a report, published by the India Today Magazine,  in case of Cancer almost 80% patients consult a doctor when recovery is very difficult. It is tragic to note that of these patients, 15% children die of cancer each year and 71% die in the age group of 30 to 69 years. The reasons for such a late detection are lack of early diagnosis, social habits like chewing tobacco and living an unhealthy life style. Similar is the case for several other diseases which claim millions of valuable lives in India.

In most of the other sectors a demand supply gap would have meant a huge opportunity for entrepreneurs but unfortunately a large number of hospitals in India are struggling to be economically viable in spite of a large population needing their services. In the absence of the power to pay the gap remains unfulfilled.

Leveraging the unutilized potential of charitable institutes & small hospitals

“We have created an economically sustainable model for the charitable institutes & small hospitals by providing expert doctors to diagnose the patients and have also lowered the rates of treatment by almost 40% at our treatment centres. This is possible due to the economies of scale as a higher utilization of doctors and equipment allows us to lower rates on a per unit basis,” said Navneet. He also shared that they are in advanced stages of finalizing an agreement with an Israeli company to provide their alliance partners state of the art medical equipment on a pay per usage basis. This will help IOSPL in creating cancer treatment centres across the country. This scaling up is possible due to assured volume of patients through their model of connecting with the charitable institutes, government and private hospitals which do not have adequate cancer treatment facilities. This set the tone for our conversation on how the charity funds can be leveraged to benefit a larger number of patients by simply connecting the two ends.

Technology can seamlessly connect the service providers to leverage charity funding

Since the healthcare domain is highly unorganized, there is hardly any formal connection between the primary, secondary and tertiary care hospitals which could have ensured full utilization of capacities at all levels of operation, specially in the private sector small and medium size hospitals. On the other side there are a lot of charitable institutes which are not fully equipped to diagnose and treat tertiary care patients. These institutes simply do not have enough resources for buying costly medical devices and hiring highly paid qualified doctors so they have to simply advise the patients to go elsewhere.  Connecting the two can benefit a far larger number of patients. Charitable hospitals can then see the OPD patients and have a volume based rate agreement with the hospitals that are fully equipped to treat those patients which can not be treated at their end. Similarly charity funds can also be leveraged by entering into agreements with the service providers who will be happy to utilize their empty beds to accommodate additional patients.

Time donation by healthcare volunteers

Mobile phones can connect the last leg of connectivity with the patients even in the remotest of the remote areas through health volunteers willing to donate time. All that is required is digital information on mobile phone about where to go for diagnosis, treatment and the payment options for free & paid services. Digital mapping of facilities and connectivity with the healthcare providers can go a long way in sharing information through the volunteers and counselling of the patients by the doctors from remote locations. Volunteer ship, specially in healthcare, is very common in India so it will be not be much of a challenge to get them to help the needy. Same channel can also be used to create awareness about diseases, important of sanitation and better healthcare.