Health Hour

Healthcare Industry in India: An overview

Healthcare industry is a conglomeration and mix of sectors inside the economic structure of the country, that not only provides goods but also treats patients through its preventive, curative and rehabilitative services. It incorporates the age and commercialization of products and ventures loaning themselves to keeping up and restoring wellbeing. The modern-day medical industry incorporates three fundamental branches which are finance, products and services. These are further segregated into several categories and sectors which depend on the trained professionals to meet the health needs of the population.


In India, a universal healthcare model is followed. This model is mostly administered at the state level rather than the federal level. The Constitution of India makes the provision of healthcare industry, the responsibility of state governments, rather than the central federal government. This will, in turn, make each state responsible for increasing the standard of living of its residents and improve the public health as a part of its primary duties.

The National Health Policy was supported by the Parliament of India in 1983 which was also updated in the year 2002 and then again in 2017. The four primary updates that were given in 2017 focus on the increased count of non-contagious diseases that are on a continuous rise which has in turn impacted the overall expenditure of treatment and research by the hospitals. However, private healthcare is often said to be responsible for healthcare industry in India, and most payments are made from the patients’ or families’ pockets instead of health insurance. Government health insurance policy has so far encouraged the expansion of private-sector.

Ayushman Bharat, an initiative funded by the government which focused on healthcare was launched in the year 2018. This initiative is said to cover approximately 50% of the population that cannot afford health insurance.

In 2015, as indicated by the World Bank, the total expenditure on health industry was 3.89% as a proportion of GDP. Out of the said percentage, the expenditure of government healthcare is 1%.

Types of Sectors in Healthcare

Public healthcare

The public health sector of India incorporates 18% of outpatient care and 44% of inpatient care. People belonging to the lower standard of living tend to use public healthcare sector more than that of middle and upper-class individuals. In addition to this, women and senior citizens are also more likely to use the services of a public healthcare service provider. The aim behind building a public healthcare sector was so that everyone could avail treatments for illnesses without having to struggle due to their socio-economic status or caste.

The general medical services framework was initially evolved so as to give a way to medical services access paying little heed to the financial status or rank. In any case, dependence on open and private medical care sector fluctuates fundamentally between states. A few reasons are referred, depending on the private as opposed to the public area; the fundamental explanation at the public level is low quality of care, with over 57% of family units highlighting this as the purpose behind an inclination for private medical services. A significant part of the public medical care segment takes into account the country zones, and the low quality emerges from the hesitance of experienced medical services suppliers to visit the rustic territories. Taking into account the provincial and distant regions depend on unpracticed understudies who are ordered to invest energy in open medical care facilities as a major aspect of their curricular prerequisite.

Various factors that are related to public medical care are divided among the state and public government sectors, as the central government addresses family healthcare and prevention of significant diseases, while the state governments handle local hospitals, sanitation and promotion, which vary from state to state depending on needs of different communities. Communication between the state and public governments takes place for healthcare issues which requires resource on large scale represent the concerns that the country as a whole is facing or might have to face in the future.

Considering the goal of obtaining universal healthcare as a part of Sustainable Development Goals, scholars request policymakers to acknowledge the form of healthcare that many are using. Scholars state that the government has a responsibility to provide healthcare services that are affordable, adequate, new and acceptable for its citizens. Public healthcare is necessary, especially when considering the costs incurred with private services. Many citizens rely on subsidized healthcare. The national budget, scholars argue, must allocate money to the public health sector to ensure that the poor are not left with the stress of meeting private sector payments.

Private healthcare

Since 2005, the private sector’s healthcare capacity has been on a constant rise. It comprises of 58% of the hospitals in the nation, 29% of hospitals’ beds, and 81% of doctors which is higher in quality and quantity than that of the public sector.

As per the National Family Health Survey, the private healthcare sector remains the prime source of medical care for 70% of the families in metropolitan regions and 63% of family units in the provincial zones. A 2013 report conducted by IMS Institute for Healthcare Informatics across 12 states in more than 14,000 families, demonstrated a consistent increase in the utilization of medical facilities in the most recent 25 years for both Out-Patient and in-Patient administrations. As far as the quality of medical services is concerned, a recent report by Sanjay Basu shows that medical care providers in the private sector spent longer duration with their patients.

Initiatives to improve access

  1. Twelfth Plan
  2. National Rural Health Mission
  3. National Urban Health Mission
  4. Pradhan Mantri Jan Arogya Yojana

Quality of healthcare

South India

In numerous communities across India, medical services are provided by informal providers who don’t have a valid accreditation to treat or diagnose patients. These providers usually only consult in cases of common diseases like cold, cough or fever. In Andhra Pradesh, these informal providers consult at the homes of the patients and prefer prescribing allopathic medications.

In the South of India, there are many individuals that opt for these informal providers as they give these services at a lower cost. These individuals are not indulging in illegal activities, however, they often end up consulting way above their qualifications.

North India

Across India, the private medical sector doesn’t have a norm of care that is available over all offices, prompting numerous varieties in the nature of healthcare services. A recent in-depth study published in Reproductive Health Matters by Padma Bhate-Deosthali, examined the quality of maternal service in different regions of the healthcare industry in India, Maharashtra. The results showed that out of the 146 maternity medical clinics that were surveyed, 137 of them didn’t have a certified birthing assistant, which is vital for maternity homes as appropriate care can’t be given without maternity specialists in some complex cases.

Interesting Facts about Indian Healthcare sector

  1. The market is estimated to grow up to USD 133.44 trillion by 2022.
  2. There are glaring differences in healthcare outcomes within India due to dependency on the state administration.
  3. The government spending on healthcare has increased to 1.4 % of GDP in 2018. It is planning to further enhance this to 2.5% of GDP by 2025.
  4. India successfully signed 23 healthcare deals worth USD 679 million in the first half of 2018.

Leading Healthcare Providers in India

  1. AIIMS (All India Institute of Medical Sciences), New Delhi
  2. PGIMER, Chandigarh
  3. Christian Medical College, Vellore
  4. Apollo Hospital, Chennai
  5. Medanta, The Medicity, Gurgaon
  6. Fortis Hospital, Kolkata
  7. Lilavati Hospital, Mumbai
  8. Jawaharlal Institute of Postgraduate Medical Education and Research, Puducherry
  9. Sankara Netralaya, Chennai


Indian healthcare sector had been growing at a steady speed, however, it is likely to grow at a higher rate in the post-pandemic era. Although, the government has invested and encouraged the healthcare sector on multiple occasions, it still seems lesser than that of other countries. Indian government’s Ayushman scheme has helped in providing healthcare facilities to the under-privileged section of the society for free. The needy are now being treated in the same facility under this scheme. More healthcare schemes like these will further expand the reach of healthcare providers to the smallest of towns.

The government of India has also developed Sustainable Development Goals which are to be achieved within the decade, i.e, 2030. This is taken as an attempt to eradicate poverty, ensure health and peace among the people. It aims at providing a healthy living for the people belonging to all age groups by eradication malnutrition and providing access to hygiene, sanitation and safe drinking water.

Another scheme that was launched in 2018 by the name of Indradanush is aimed at ensuring nationwide immunization coverage. This scheme is targeted to complete 90% immunization goals by the end of the same year.

The healthcare system is at the crossroads facing multiple challenges as well as opportunities and yet, it has a promising future with the help of the governments spreading awareness through their programs.

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