Corona crisis negating viability of hospitals

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Dr Ravi Wankhedkar

Rohit Shishodia
Lack of patients for admission and deserted outpatient departments have impacted the business of private hospitals severely in the wake of the ongoing India-wide lockdown. The hospitals continue to procure medical equipment to ensure safety, but lack of patient footfall due to lockdown is worrying the leading private healthcare facilities.

According to a report, Medanta Hospitals has reported 90% drop in its revenue with sharp drops in out-patient footfalls, elective surgeries and international patients. OPD visits have also come down in Apollo Hospitals.

In Fortis Hospitals, the number of new admissions daily has dropped by 90%, while new registrations have come down to zero. The average inpatient numbers are reported to have dropped by 64%, thus impacting the revenue in March by 35% with regards to international business.

It may be noted that these hospitals cater to a number of foreign patients. Since international flights are banned, these patients cannot visit the hospitals, thus adversely impacting hospitals' revenues.

Not just international patients, but footfall of domestic patients has also come down drastically, which is also impacting the business of medium sized doctor-owned hospitals.

Dr Ravi Wankhedkar, Treasurer, World Medical Hospital and Past President of Indian Medical Association, told DTMT, “Medium sized doctor owned hospitals still form the majority of health care givers providing round the clock affordable, accessible, accountable primary and secondary healthcare.”

“Large hospital chains providing tertiary care are also having severe strain on their cash flows. They are seeing falling revenues. They have reported decrease of nearly 80% OPD and IPD due to lockdown and ban on elective surgeries etc,” added Dr Wankhedkar.

He has demanded that the government should pay arrears of various government and semi government insurance schemes and points out that nearly Rupees 2000 crore is pending. Government should decrease or waive electricity and water charges and provide soft loans with interest waivers.

He pointed out that doctors should be allowed elective procedures, with all safety measures, in green zones for all hospitals and in all zones for small and medium hospitals which are less likely to be acquired.

Dr Wankhedkar has also demanded changing the blanket sealing policy of hospitals. Instead, thorough disinfection and close monitoring and testing should be done.

Banning disclosure in the media of the name of the hospital where a patient has tested positive to prevent stigmatisation of that hospital, abolishing /reducing GST on medical equipment and supplies, providing standard PPE at reasonable rates and arranging transport for patients and one accompanying relative are other suggestions made by Dr Wankhedkar.

“If such measures are not implemented, hospitals will close down causing long term failure of health care delivery system. Also, it will add to the rising unemployment as health care industry is one of the largest employment providers, especially to women,” warned Dr Wankhedkar.


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