The revolutionary changes taking place in the healthcare sector in India, combined with the emergence of Covid and the increasing burden of other diseases, have brought the need for a resilient healthcare system to the fore. Latest technological advancements and increasing digital penetration in healthcare coupled with high demand for medical facilities from the domestic market as well as increasing medical tourism pose a gigantic challenge for the healthcare sector in India .
And to build a strong healthcare system, a determined yet adaptable workforce of skilled healthcare professionals is essential to lead developments. Therefore, the importance of having a rich education system cannot be overlooked.
One of the many challenges facing the healthcare sector is the overload of Indian doctors. According to inputs from a stocktaking exercise by the 15th Finance Committee in 2021, in India there is one doctor for every 1511 patients against the WHO norm of 1 doctor for every 1000 patients. And also one nurse for every 670 patients, which is double the WHO recommendation of one nurse for every 300 patients.
Although the Government of India has focused on expanding the healthcare workforce over the past 2-3 years by establishing new colleges and increasing the number of medical seats in existing colleges, the system education today is still riddled with many challenges and has a big step to take. to cope with future developments in the sector.
“Accessibility to quality medical education is a big challenge, each year many medical aspirants are not admitted to medical institutions due to insufficient number of places, another challenge is affordability at the Except for public medical schools, medical education in private colleges is very expensive entailing large out-of-pocket expenses.In the area of quality education, the emphasis on practical experience is much less important in colleges than in developed countries, which leaves doctors ill-equipped to handle community health issues and medical college faculties are stretched quite thin,” said Dr. Manish Mattoo, CEO, Apollo Hospitals, Bangalore.
According to NMC (National Medical Commission), there are about 612 MBBS colleges in India with almost 92000 UG seats for students which they can avail after qualifying the competitive NEET exam, but according to several reports, the seats for PG degrees in India are only half of the places at UG, forcing many students to pursue their higher education abroad. Overall, medical places in the country do not meet demand and are not affordable for many, leading to 20,000 to 25,000 students each year traveling abroad to pursue their medical studies.
“One of the reasons for the brain drain of doctors is the quality of opportunities our doctors get in developed countries. And in the institutes abroad, the emphasis on research work is very high compared to India which attracts a lot of young talent. Also at the entry level, we need to provide better work opportunities, including better salaries, to our doctors in India,” said Kamlesh Vyas, Partner at Deloitte India.
Digital and technological disruption has deeply penetrated the healthcare sector, medical authorities and faculties need to ensure healthcare professionals are technologically savvy and continuously updated with the latest developments in the healthcare landscape to provide the best promotional and preventive care.
Dr. Manish explained that unlike the West, in India we do not have collaborations and partnerships between medical colleges, health industry and private hospitals. He says innovation happens today at the intersection of the healthcare industry and corporate hospitals, “so unless there is a structured mechanism between these stakeholders, students in medicine will be deprived of the exhibition. Medical institutes should partner with corporate hospitals and the private healthcare sector that are investing heavily in the latest technologies, so that students can be aware of the advancements,” he added.
Mr. Vyas advises that the medical education of countries has a lot of room for improvement to be ready for the future and can improve by revising the curriculum, integrating practical experience, reducing the workload of students and hence burnout and dropout, faculty development, enabling technology, improving teaching aids and learning facilities. He says these improvements will move our medical education away from outdated content and pedagogy and rote learning and help our students get a quality education.
“In our country, we need 2-3 lakhs of doctors fainting every year, but we only manage around 60,000, we need to think about the volume and make it more affordable and accessible. And to address this, policy-making must take the lead starting with the democratization of medical education, which should include active multi-stakeholder partnership, increased research funding for colleges, as well as transparent policy-making and capping of medical costs by the government,” Dr. Manish enumerated.
In order to address the challenges and systemic issues of medical education in India, medical institutes, healthcare industry and government authorities need to work in tandem to prepare a technologically advanced medical workforce immersed in the digital and less overloaded, ready for developments. of the future to come.