Kerala’s healthcare sector plagued with low quality training institutions

Observing that Kerala’s healthcare suffers from “a haphazard growth of low quality” training institutions, a top management expert today said there is an imperative need for trained professionals through strategic manpower planning and a 10-year perspective plan to remove the crippling anomalies in the sector.

What is prevalent in Kerala is a haphazard way of developing training institutions for skill-specific employment in the healthcare sector. Many low-profile, low quality private training institutions have come up in the state because of this,” said Dr. V. Mukunda Das, Director, Chandragupt Institute of Management Patna (CIMP).

Delivering the keynote address on the occasion of the Silver Jubilee celebrations of the Child Development Centre (CDC) at the Government Medical College here, Dr. Das noted that because of this haphazard approach, especially by the private sector, the investment in training becomes futile and an unproductive endeavour due to limited opportunities for employment for the trained personnel.

The lack of trained professionals is a major challenge that needs to be addressed by the organisations operating in the healthcare industry. Thus, manpower planning should form an important part of the strategic management process,” he said, adding that such a scenario was relevant not only in Kerala but in the entire country.

The manpower support required at all levels in healthcare in an institutional context (hospital) of the population needs to be visualised in advance,” he said, making a strong pitch for leveraging academic programmes like Masters in Hospital Administration (MHA).

Elaborating, Dr Das, who earlier served a stint with the faculty at IIM, Kozhikode, said the strategic plan for Kerala’s health sector needs to be prepared with a ten-year perspective, taking into account the trend in disease profile, evaluation of public health programmes and their limitations and areas for public-private partnership. Also, the strategic plan will have details like the demand for manpower at different levels, including doctors, specialists and paramedics.

There is a need to introduce an efficient and effective hospital administration system in healthcare organisations. Doctors or nurses, per se, will not be able to add to the quality of healthcare services unless an effective hospital administration system is in place. It is high time that an evaluation of hospital administration systems in private and public hospitals is undertaken by trained professionals and researchers,” the expert suggested.

As part of remedial measures, Dr Das suggested integration of courses like MHA into a strategic manpower planning framework of the government; identification of skills, especially the paramedical staff; setting up cooperatives of Home Nurses; and opening an online employment exchange in the state to enable hospitals recruit professionals and staff in health administration.

Further, clinics with modern hospital administration systems can be introduced at the panchayat level while the MHA can evolve into a state-of-the-art programme that has the potential to revolutionise the hospital-patient interface.

Studies have shown that the supply-driven approach to strategic manpower planning in Kerala’s health sector will have to undergo substantial changes in the days to come. The MHA Programme is an effort to fill the gaps in the professional manpower requirement in the healthcare sector in Kerala and India as a whole,” he pointed out.

Dr. Das said India’s healthcare expenditure is amongst the lowest globally, but such a scenario offers both enormous challenges and opportunities for the private sector in terms of accessibility of health service and the quality of patient care.

The Indian healthcare industry is expected to grow to USD 280 billion by 2020 while the average Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) in the healthcare industry for the next 10 years has been estimated at 21 per cent.

Citing a study conducted by an international consulting agency he said India’s healthcare sector is expected to grow at 15 per cent on a year-on-year basis, on account of factors like rapid growth in infrastructure development, creation of demand for higher levels of healthcare, increase in awareness of the end users, and launch of innovative insurance, reimbursement and financing policies. The growth of the Indian middle class, with sufficient disposable income, is seen as a strong driver for the growth of the Indian healthcare industry.

The healthcare infrastructure in India is inadequate and lags behind in the global average in terms of infrastructural and manpower requirement. India has an average 0.6 doctors per 1000 population against the global average of 1.23. However, the private sector contribution, at 75 per cent in healthcare investment, is amongst the highest in the world.

India needs to make its healthcare delivery sustainable. Demographic and economic factors are expected to increase the healthcare coverage in the country, which is expected to drive the sector,” he said.

As part of the three-day silver jubilee celebrations (Aug. 30-Sept 1), CDC has organised discussions on issues such as hospital management, child adolescent health, and lifestyle diseases.

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