Patient-care Equipment in Hospitals: A Tale of Two Compromises

By Sumeet Aggarwal

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Hospital beds, surgical tables and other patient-care equipment market is rapidly growing; however, the ecosystem stands compromised, both in terms of quality and care, writes Sumeet Aggarwal

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 been adopting innovations and new models to meet the requirements of modern age patient-care. Patient-care equipment including hospital beds, OT market in India is rapidly growing. India is witnessing the advent of a new healthcare ecosystem, however the patient care equipment segment continues to struggle hard in availing the benefits of it. Thus exists an imminent need to address the challenges which insulates 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 immensely contributing with their innovative and best-in-class patient care equipment and services.

Market Dynamics

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 120000 – 130000 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 exceed value of USD 1800 million by 2026, expanding at a CAGR of more than 3 percent from 2018 to 2026. In 201; 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

It is a well-known fact that there has been a steady increase of real estate, material and other costs for private hospitals. Real estate prices in the metro cities and even in Tier II & III cities are very high. 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 on hospital infrastructure. High cost of setting up a green field hospital restrict them to keep other expenses such as on patient care equipment at low levels. Medical bed must be superior in quality, comfortable and with high technology as they form a critical component in the hospital infrastructure and patients spend their maximum time inside the premises. Despite the fact, hospitals fail to pay adequate attention towards it. For example a portable beds are automatic and sophisticated, does not require two-three staff to shift a patient, however, 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 and it also creates roadblock to further invest in R&D. There is an urgent need to create an industry-friendly business climate to provide a new momentum to the patient care equipment sector. With robust R&D, the sector has been offering innovative solutions. For example, motorized or portable 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 which play a role in the recovery of patient. Such equipment also reduces duration of hospitalization of a patient.

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.

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