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Indian Healthcare Industry: Rising change In Attitude By Middle Class

ARISING middle in come group and a change in attitude to-wards healthcare is driving the growth in the Indian healthcare industry. "The middle income group spends Rs 5,000 to Rs 10,000 on an average per person every year primarily on preventive care and health check ups and demand the best healthcare products and services. They visit multispeciality private hospitals evne if they have to pay for the service from their own pocket," said Dr C Janakiraman, CEO, Alticure Research.

The increasing per capita expense from this group is expected to support the growth of the Indian healthcare industry, he added. Population of over 100-150m demand high quality heathcare services at a competitive price. With this demand, new hospital projects in the private sector are mushrooming in the country.

The impact is that the $17bn healthcare industry which comprises of hospital services, heathcare equipment, health insurance, managed care and pharmaceuticals is to grow at 13% annually.

The Central Bureau of Health Intelligence study also confirms that a majority of Indians, particularly the middle and high income groups, have confidence in healthcare products and services offered by private hospitals rather than the government-owned healthcare agencies.

According to Dr Janakiraman, private sector healthcare service is 60% more expensive than the government hospitals and these groups are willing to pay for it. To meet this growing demand and service standards, many Indian hospitals have begun to import the latest equipment and instruments.

This trend is expected to continue over the next five years. The driving force that creates the demand for medical equipment include increased income, growing health consciousness in the population, establishment of a number of super-speciality hospitals and specific diagnostic centers and favourable government policies like the reduction in import duties. "The medical equipment vendors are pushing out newer models every year some of which provide substantial newer features while some offer products with only marginal improvements.

The negotiation power of hospitals vis--vis suppliers would be a critical factor in bringing down cost of equipment in the country. Organised buying has yet to take off in the country in the private sector, unlike in developed countries," said Dr Saji Salam, consultant, Healthcare Practice Cognizant Technology Solutions.

[Ref: Economic Times, 07/01/2003]

Electron Beam CT (EBCT) : Much Faster Than CT Scan

IT WILL go to the heart of the disease. And, its entry into India seems imminent. Developed by GE Corp, the technique, called the Electron Beam CT (EBCT), is the latest in scanning "asymtomatic" people who harbour risk factors which could trigger a cardiac disorder.

"The EBCT is around 500 times faster than existing CT scan equipment that you see in India. It can perform an imaging function in far less time than one requires for an ECG. Being ultra-fast, it can scan a heart while it is moving and detect traces of calcium deposit in the cardiac artery which is the first indication of the possibility of a heart attack or disorder," Dr Avijit Lahiri

Dr Lahiri is director, department of cardiac research at Northwick Park Hospital, Harrow and Wellington Hospital's Cardiac Imaging & Research Centre in London. Some 35% of people with heart disease, according to him, die of sudden attacks.

Another 35% make their "first presentation" to a doctor after an attack. Thus, 70% of the total cross-sections are in effect missing out systematically on timely treatment. Thus, the volume of population falling prey to cardiac diseases is much larger than one imagines, he said. Often, those with coronary artery diseases do not show any symptoms. In fact, 80% fall in this category.

"It's only a matter of time before the ECBT comes into India. I expect that to happen in the next 1-2 years. The incidence of heart ailments in Indians in the UK and US is 50% higher than western population. That is a pointer to the situation here in India. Especially among those living in the cities," Dr Lahiri said.

The latest ECBT version costs around $2 million. Dr Lahiri said that the treatment cost per patient can be reduced "considerably" if the machines is used to treat wide segment of patients/cases everyday. In the same breath, one can do without a lot of tests like angiogram, tread mill, stress echo or nuclear scan.

[Ref: Economic Times, 07/01/2003]

Breast Implants: US Statistics showed about 23 per cent of patients removed within three years

Belgian woman politicians are seeking a legally-binding four-week "time to think" beofe breast enlargement operations and a minimum age requirement of 18 years, media reports have said.

The proposals, from social democratic politicians Kathleen Van Brempt and Magda De Meyer, were an attempt to counter misleading advertising and dubious clinics which, Van Brempt said, presented such operations "like a visit to a hairdresser".

Information about risks and side effects of the operation should be improved, the politicians said. "We do believe that breast implants have become safer", Van Brempt said on Saturday. "But risks remain and the patient has a right to know of them".

About 10,000 women had breast enlargements in Belgium from 1999 to 2001. US statistics showed about 23 per cent of patients had implants removed within three years owing to complications, and to 75 per cent with in ten years.

[Ref: Times of India, 30/12/2002]

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