A healthy demand

Though it promises to be a sunshine sector, the healthcare industry still faces a shortage of skilled professionals. Gauri Rane speaks to experts on what can be done to bridge the gap

Though it promises to be a sunshine sector, the healthcare industry still faces a shortage of skilled professionals. Gauri Rane speaks to experts on what can be done to bridge the gap

According to various surveys conducted by government and non government organisations India`s population stands at 1.27 billion. More than 65 per cent of this population is below the age of 35 years. Considering the numerous cases of ailments, diseases, lifestyle diseases etc this vast population urgently needs assistance of healthcare professionals to sustain everyday. There is a definite number as to how many professionals are required to make sure that they are well looked after. As per the recommendation of Bureau of Indian Standards, minimum of seven managers in 100 bed hospitals, 13 managers in upto 500 and 17 managers in 500 bedded hospitals with post graduate degree in hospital administration are needed.

Similarly, a demand analysis for the public health sector suggests, India with 29 states and 7 union territories and 680 districts require a programme manager at each level. About 30,000 would be required in health systems at the state and district levels in the states, ministry of health and family welfare, national health mission, consulting organisations and national and state level institutions, and UN and international agencies. “An estimated 21,750 professionals would be required to manage hospitals based upon the country’s present status, which reflects the dearth in their workforce capacity,” explains Dr SD Gupta, president, IIHMR University. Sunil Chaturvedi, director- Pharma Network at SPP School of Pharmacy & Technology Management, NMIMS, points out, “Better pay packages have resulted a better lifestyle which is full of stress, resulting in lifestyle related disorders. However, it would be difficult to put a number on how many people are suffering from any of these diseases.”
Narendra Karkera, director, Hosmac India Pvt Ltd points out that over two decades ago, the sector understood the need for professionally qualified staff because of the complex nature of running the hospital. “There was an awareness in the patients mind about the service and quality care,” he explains. Medical curriculum does not train students in administration, planning, finance, law etc as subjects in their curriculum but concentrates only medical care. The management courses in hospital administration was started so that doctors can concentrate on medical practice and the administrators can manage the hospital. Initially, however, anyone who has some work experience in hospital along with a graduate degree were allowed to do this course. Now it is observed that many MBBS degree holders prefer to go for Masters in hospital administration and they are more prefered because they can understand the need of the hospital better.

A prospective healthcare professional has a variety of options to choose from— hospital managers and administrators who work for hospitals, pharma companies, health insurance and other healthcare providing organisations. Having said that, experts in the industry are of the opinion that there is a huge skill gap in the healthcare sector. “Despite having a diverse range of options to choose the educational institutions for such managerial courses, there is still a gap between the supply and the demand side,” says Gupta.

According to experts, there is an extensive deficit in the leadership and strategic management skill sets that are needed for improving the efficiency and effectiveness of hospitals, health systems and health programmes.“Some of the key management skills that require attention is problem solving and decision making, management of information systems, quality, logistics, supply chain and inventory management, human resource management, finance management and data analysis and management,” says Gupta, drawing attention to the various skills that require attention.

A qualified management graduate specially trained to work in the healthcare sector would have an advantage in the inter-disciplinary interactions, effective and efficient management of the available resources, coordination along the hierarchy, logistics and supply- chain related issues along with many other issues that are required in a hospital. “These professionals should be able to manifest acumen in leadership and strategic management, financial management, statistics and data management, disease prevention and outbreak control, surveillance, human resource and marketing management, operation management, cost benefit analysis, research methodology and operations research,” explains Gupta.

Experts suggest that more and more health and hospital management institutions producing quality managers with expertise and background in the medicine, biotechnology, nursing, life sciences, insurance, public health, community medicine, pharmacy etc can help in overcoming this deficit in an effective way. Karkera points out an unavoidable fact, “Now-a-day universities offer courses in hospital or healthcare management at masters or MBA level in order to fulfill the demand for good administrators at the number of hospitals that are opening up every year. Hence, it is safe to say that quality healthcare professionals are going to be in great demand.”

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