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Snapshot of the live webinar discussion hosted by Goa Institute of Management recently.

“COVID-19 has surfaced as a wake-up call for each one of us to not look at the Indian health system in silos, but rather as an entire continuum of care where both public and private sector can collaborate as one to bring synergy and strengthen the healthcare”, said Varun Jhaveri, Officer on Special Duty to the CEO, National Health Authority, Government of India in a panel discussion organized by the Healthcare Management team at the leading B-school Goa Institute of Management (GIM) on ‘The Role of Private Health Sector in a Public Health Emergency: Experiences and Lessons from COVID-19.’

Moderated by Dr. Kheya Furtado, Assistant Professor, Goa Institute of Management, the session had industry stakeholders who spoke on the contributions, initiatives and innovations being taken up by healthcare organizations in its efforts at responding to a public health crisis The live webinar was held in collaboration with Intas Pharmaceuticals Ltd.

Innovaccer launched India’s first self-testing COVID app along with Government of Goa, followed by Government of Puducherry, and to capture the very essence of digitization of health, Sachin Saxena, Director of Marketing and Founding Team Member, Innovaccer, threw light on the growing trend of virtual care and tele consultation in these times. “COVID-19 is actually the catalyst to change that the world would have otherwise seen 10 years down the lane”, said Sachin, while addressing the attendees.

 “COVID built a huge stress on the entire system with shortage of physicians and nurses as they were getting infected by the virus, unwillingness of patients to step into hospitals- resulting in low OPD footfalls, non-availability of flights, operating costs going up and increased costs for uninterrupted supply chain movement, all with the obligation to ensure patient’s safety at all costs,”, said Kaustav Banerjee, Vice President, South Asia, Zimmer Biomet while talking about several challenges the medical device sector and health ecosystem has been facing over the course of time, owing to the pandemic, but has now been able to address.

Dr. Sajjan Rajpurohit, Senior Consultant, Medical Oncology, Max Group of Hospitals, threw light on the initiatives taken up by Max Hospitals, right from labelling two of their major hospitals as COVID hospitals during the early phase to ensuring designated COVID wards and increased capacity to handle patients in their hospitals in order to decrease people’s fear of visiting hospitals during these tough times.

Presenting the pharmaceutical sector’s perspective, Manoj Kumar, Senior Vice President, Intas Pharmaceuticals Limited, threw light on how they witnessed a rapid need for various drugs that were otherwise usually kept in cold storages, while mentioning the commendable collaboration of various stakeholders within the pharmaceutical industry to ensure availability of chronic supplies at all times. He also talked about the increased level of awareness among people for healthcare, along with a shift in investing into prevention.

Taking the discussion forward, Sanjay Sonar, Subject Matter Expert, Optel Group, discussed the importance of intelligent supply chain and how the switch from convention supply chain to digital supply chain has impacted in positive transformation of the health sector, especially during the lockdown.

Varun highlighted the efforts of the government in augmenting facilities for both testing and treatment for Ayushman Bharat- PMJAY beneficiaries, by empaneling more hospitals and private testing labs and constantly monitoring the same in order to focus on both patients and providers.

The panel also discussed the challenges of costs of products and services within private sector and the need for increasing emphasis on prevention.  While deliberating on the top key learning for their sectors with the advent of the pandemic, the panelists were in unison to highlight the importance of technology advancement and digitization, with the need of strategic partnership of public and private sectors to create value in ensuring a better distribution of care among all cities, as opposed to just metropolitans. Indeed, our learnings from COVID should not just be limited to the pandemic, but towards transformation of health systems for better population health going forward.