Nasscom, Nathealth sign MoU for better healthcare inclusion

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Information technology majors such as Wipro, GE, Siemens and Phillips are coming forward to provide technical know-how to the healthcare sector as well as to enhance accessibility to the sector in order to have a better healthcare inclusion. For this purpose, industry body Nasscom has signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with Healthcare Federation of India (Nathealth) to focus on developing and optimising healthcare infrastructure enabled by technology.

The partnership will focus on leveraging technology for improving patient care and to build linkages between various stakeholders including technology industry in the healthcare services ecosystem.

Talking about the MoU, R Chandrashekhar, president, Nasscom, said, “The healthcare sector experiencing a steady and stable transformation world over, with IT playing a central role in every aspect of the healthcare value chain. And in this regard, we are pleased to partner with Nathealth to further ensure faster adaptability of advanced technologies, reduction of service costs and provision of quality healthcare at affordable prices. The MoU will enable policy-legal frameworks required to create a converged healthcare system, and develop joint policy advocacy outcomes.”

Nasscom and Nathealth will jointly identify and evangelise new class of technology solutions and service delivery platforms that will enable to optimise the delivery of health services in both private and public sector, thereby enhancing access and affordability.

Anjan Bose, secretary general, Nathealth, said, “The healthcare sector has excellent opportunities that IT companies can capitalise on and grow. As part of the MoU, the collaboration will aim to leverage technology for innovative solutions which will help both healthcare and IT sectors grow further. Emerging technologies like cloud, analytics, pervasive presence of mobile telephony and broadband penetration have created new opportunities for both sectors to collaborate and increase Healthcare quality, accessibility and affordability.”

Nathealth governing council member Shivinder Mohan Singh, also vice chairman, Fortis Healthcare, said that accessibility has been a major concern across the healthcare sector, largely in primary healthcare. While the urban India already has a better accessibility, it is lacking in a big way in the interiors of the country, even in small cities. “We have to bridge this gap. Without IT, healthcare cannot go to the next level,” Singh said.

There are considerable gaps between rural and urban areas with respect to disease morbidity and mortality. According to a PwC report, while the combined problems of under-nutrition and inappropriate nutrition account for almost equal population proportions in the rural (48 per cent) as well as urban areas (49 per cent), under-nutrition is a dominant problem in the former while obesity accounts for half the burden of malnutrition in the latter. “Urban areas have about four times more health workers per population of 10,000 than rural areas. About 42 per cent of health workers identifying themselves as allopathic doctors in rural areas have no medical training as against 15 per cent in urban areas. Compounding these disparities is an urban bias in health financing. For example, almost 30 per cent of the public health expenditure from the centre and states, is allocated to urban allopathic services while rural centres receive less than 12 per cent,” the PwC report said.

Nathealth is looking at areas such as organ transplantation which lacks organised data. The technology industry, Bose feels, can help the sector to bridge this gap. He also said that technology is the only way to increase accessibility and bridge the gap.

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