Discussing the Pain Points of Emergency Hospitalization in India

In a highly populous country like India, the unmet healthcare needs of our people are almost as diverse as the climatic conditions and terrains across regions. However, if we aspire to make India a global superpower in the healthcare sector, it is important for us to address the shortcomings at various levels of the country’s larger healthcare ecosystem. One of the weaker and less-prioritized aspects of the Indian healthcare ecosystem is the emergency healthcare space at large, and emergency hospitalizations to be more particular.

The pressing need for emergency hospitalizations for our citizens may arise due to varied reasons – from accidents and road injuries to natural or man-made disasters, complications during childbirth/pregnancy, high prevalence of infections, sudden illnesses and lifestyle diseases and cardiovascular disorders, trauma, and much more. Regardless of the root cause, providing timely emergency response, hospitalization and medical aid is the key for improving patient outcomes. Because when it comes to medical emergencies, only a few minutes can prove to be a critical differentiator between life and death for anyone!

While the significance of speedy emergency hospitalization remains well-established amongst the medical fraternity, the case is not the same, by and large, for the nation’s ‘aam junta’ (general public). And hence, we have seen countless instances where the lack of awareness and understanding of medical emergencies would lead to delays in pre-hospital care and emergency hospitalization. On the other hand, if and when the emergency response happens to be quicker and a patient is brought to be urgently treated at the nearest hospital, one might face challenges like longer waiting periods for admission due to resource crunch and/or overcrowded emergency wards.

From the legal or and regulatory standpoint as well, there remains hurdles to be overcome for enabling seamless emergency hospitalizations across India. In India, as of date, no one single comprehensive law has been formulated by the Government to regulate and provide emergency hospitalization and medical care services to Indians. Although the right to emergency medical care of every Indian has been often interpreted as a citizen right enshrined under Article 21 and Article 47 of the Indian Constitution, but in the absence of a centralized law in this regard, there have been several instances reported in the recent past across the country where private hospitals have denied emergency hospitalization and/or turned away patients – especially road accident victims – despite being morally and ethically bound to serve their emergency medical needs. Or at times, they redirect the patient to another hospital by citing medico-legal complexities involved.

So the question arises – how can we bridge these gaps and make emergency hospitalization in India much more accessible, seamless and faster, just as it should be?

The answer to that lies in multi-stakeholder collaborations and innovative approaches. The Government and private healthcare sector must work hand in hand to optimize and accelerate the processes and logistics involved in emergency hospitalizations and contribute jointly towards upgrading health infrastructure, while taking into account taking both the qualitative and quantitative aspects. Also, priority should be given towards integrating modern technologies like AI, telemedicine and connected IOT systems to efficiently manage the patient flow and transport services for emergency hospitalization. With concerted efforts from various stakeholders, it is possible for India to be able to get increased optimal and satisfactory outcomes for emergency hospitalizations, save more lives, and thereby take exemplary strides to becoming a global leader in the emergency healthcare response domain by the next decade.

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