Patient-care Equipment in Hospitals: A Tale of Two Compromises
Hospital beds, surgical tables & other patient-care equipment market is rapidly growing. However the ecosystem stands compromised both in terms of quality and care
Sumeet Aggarwal, Managing Director, Midmark India & NATHEALTH Member
The Indian Healthcare Sector finds itself at the crossroads of pricing, quality care and a holistic development. Each vertical deserves focused efforts in terms of policy intervention as well as the way forward. In view of growing healthcare needs of the people, the sector, with several segments such as providers, medical technology/devices, diagnostics among others, has embraced new innovative models to meet the requirements of modern age patient-care. India is witnessing the advent of a new healthcare ecosystem, however the ever-expanding patient-care equipment segment continues to struggle hard in availing the benefits of it. Thus exists an imminent need to address the challenges which insulate the sector from a compromise both in terms of cost and care.
The patient-care equipment category consists of Hospital beds, including innovative smart beds, intensive care beds, trolleys, OT tables, lights and other medical furniture.To equip the Indian hospitals both foreign and domestic players are contributing with their innovative and best-in class patient care equipment and services.
Accessibility-enabled smart medical beds have the potential of becoming the center of advanced, comprehensive and patient conscious healthcare ecosystem. The global hospital beds’ market is expected to attain a size of USD 4.6 billion by 2023, according to P&S market Research. Hospitals are anticipated to remain the most lucrative end-users of medical beds, with sales forecast to account for approximately USD 2300 million revenue by end of 2022. According to the industry estimates, in 2018, the Indian hospital beds market was estimated at Rs. 750 crore with 125,000 units. The hospital beds contribute 50 percent to the total hospital furniture industry. This segment is expected to continue to grow at 10-12 percent year on year, with 120,000 – 130,000 additional beds every year.Surgical or OT tables and lights segment also offer huge opportunities. The Global Surgical Tables and Lights market is anticipated to cross USD 1800 million by 2026, expanding at a CAGR of more than 3 percent from 2018 to 2026. In 2017, the Indian OT tables market was estimated at Rs. 230.75 crore with sales at 4550 units while the indigenous segment with 3800 units constitutes 83.5 percent of the total market.
Challenges & Compromises
With a steady increase in real estate, material and other costs for private hospitals, real estate prices in the metro cities and even in Tier II & III cities are increasing rapidly. Private hospitals are under great stress now due to increasing capital and operational costs. In such scenario, when a new hospital project or infrastructure is planned, the expenses on patient care equipment are compromised due to high level of capital expenditure done on hospital infrastructure. High cost of setting up a green field hospital restrict them to keep other expenses at low levels.Superior quality, comfort and advanced technology form a critical component in the hospital infrastructure as patients spend their maximum time inside the premises. Despite the fact, hospitals fail to pay adequate attention towards it. For example, automatic portable beds which require minimum assistance to shift a patient.Still, hospitals are hesitant to spend money on such sophisticated equipment. Are we not comprising both quality and care?
It is promising to note that the government-run big hospitals have emerged as champions in adopting innovative and advanced patient care equipment including smart hospital beds. However, in absence of quick approval procedures and timely payment mechanism, domestic players find the supply to the government sector unsustainable.Thus, creating roadblock for further invest in R&D due to lack of funds.There is an urgent need to create an industry-friendly business climate to provide a new momentum to the patient care equipment sector. For example, motorized smart beds have transformed the way hospitals take care of this prime need in patient care system. With motorized bed, patient doesn’t have to do much body movements leading to quicker recovery and time spent in the premises.
The Way Forward
Patient care equipment plays a critical role in continuum of care especially when the sector aims at providing quality and affordable care in a patient-centric environment. Globally, healthcare institutions are rated on the basis of availability of beds and quality. Hence, the sector needs a robust ecosystem to push patient care equipment segment. In view of huge potential and opportunities in this segment, the hospitals needs to be given some incentives. Credit at cheaper rate would come as a big support to the hospital to go for the best patient care equipment.
We need to provide further momentum to ‘Make in India’ as low quality patient care equipment are being dump in the country and quality is compromised on cost factor. ‘Make in India’ campaign will not only create level playing field for domestic players but also create a healthy competition which would make these equipment very cost effective for the hospital to procure. In term of payment, private providers are much better than the government hospitals which sometimes take a year to approve the payments and this comes as a big blow to the companies which have other financial commitments as well. To leverage the benefits of growing demand of the segment, it is expected that both private and public sector would pay attention to their procurement policy and mechanism particularly for patient care equipment segment. This in turn would assist the Indian healthcare sector in providing world class facilities and care to the people.