Of pizzas, pills and panchayats : E Kumar Sharma - Business Today Blogs

Urban India may be used to getting a pizza delivered in 30 minutes. Ok, may be in 45 minutes, given the gridlock and traffic snarls on most Indian roads but we all know it takes a lot more waiting than this to get appropriate medical aid. The challenges, as we all know again, get compounded if we talk of a rural or semi-urban location. Driven partly by this and by its own experiences, eight years into business with focus only on providing healthcare services in tier II and tier III cities and towns, Vaatsalya Healthcare is today busy trying to organise a meeting of healthcare practitioners focussed on rural and semi-urban India. 

 It is roping in several healthcare providers like medical devices companies and others for a `healthcare summit’ , as it likes to call it, in August in Bangalore. Based on its experiences from the 17 locations that it is present in today across two states – Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh – employing 1500 people, representatives of the company say that there are several issues that hurt this sector and that there is a need to bring healthcare practitioners, clinicians, legal experts, representatives from the government in to brainstorm and for thought sharing on how to solve systemic issues like talent shortages, bringing in best practices and on regulations when dealing with providing healthcare in tier II and tier III cities and towns where medical eco-systems are lacking.

 “The issue that needs top priority is of course talent shortage,” says Dr Ashwin Naik, co founder & CEO, Vaatsalya Healthcare. One way to bridge the gap, he feels is by creating positions like physician assistants and nurse practitioners. Availability of human resources – both medical and managerial – in all the tier II and tier III locations is not easy. To deal with this, he feels, “there could be a system of training and imparting skills to general practitioners to take up more specialised work and upskilling the nurses through a training programme to make them nurse practitioners, a concept prevalent in the West.”  These could be similar to physician assistants, who examine patients before the doctor examines and decides on a treatment. But that would require standardisation and policy interventions to make suitable regulations. The other issue is that of quality standards that are tailored to meet the realities of tier II and tier III cities and towns.