Digital health deserves a better deal in the Union Budget

Digital health deserves a better deal in the Union Budget

Digital health deserves a better deal in the Union Budget

by Dr Vaibhav Kapoor

The healthcare sector has not been able to derive the benefits of the GST transition like other sectors of the economy. Instead, embedded taxes have increased in the post-GST regime. The Union Budget should ease GST norms to enable the healthcare sector, including new-age healthcare players to derive benefits.

The Budget should also increase the government’s focus on public-private partnership (PPP) models to ensure better access and affordability of healthcare. There are several models of PPP for healthcare such as contracting-in, contracting-out, voucher systems, mobile health vans, insurance, subsidies, leasing or rentals, and privatization. All these must be leveraged further to uplift the healthcare system, including scaling up diagnostics infrastructure or NCD management in tier II and III cities. Strategies for PPP models must be sustainable.

Digital Health
The COVID-19 pandemic accelerated the adoption of digital technology across the healthcare system. The open platform for the National Digital Health Ecosystem consisting of digital registries of health providers and health facilities announced in the last Budget was a positive step towards prioritizing the role of digitization in the overall healthcare ecosystem. There is still the need for more budgetary allocation to enhance the patient experience, attract smart investments in relevant digital health technologies, augment healthcare infrastructure, and build up an ecosystem through collaboration.

Digital health can potentially give rise to the world’s biggest company, which could be a consumer health tech one. Four of the world’s five biggest companies – Google, Apple, Facebook (Meta), and Amazon are consumer companies who are aiming to leverage the US healthcare which accounts for $4 trillion of the American economy and comprises 20% of the GDP. In the near future, a consumer health major that reimagines what care could look like, could emerge as the world’s biggest company, and not one of the current big tech or healthcare companies. In the Indian context, a local major can adopt that template.

Health tech startups are changing India’s healthcare industry with their innovative solutions. At Pristyn Care which is based on cutting-edge technology platforms, we are addressing long standing challenges such as making healthcare affordable, accessible, and quality-driven. Despite all these, the onus of making quality healthcare accessible to all remains with the government. For that, an industry-friendly Budget to boost new-age healthcare players can go a long way in achieving the goal of universal health coverage.
Way forward
In the last Budget, CAPEX took center stage with a 35% increment over the previous estimates. That spirit must continue for the healthcare sector to scale up. The fiscal deficit for FY24 is estimated at around 6% of the GDP in FY24, which translates into a fiscal consolidation of 40 bps from the current fiscal. Containing the fiscal deficit will help keep the economy on track.

The Budget could reduce the GST rate which will help startups. There is also a need for faster regulatory policies for startups along the lines of America’s Breakthrough Devices Program via the US Food and Drug Administration. Government incentives for health tech startups can make a huge difference to India’s quest to build a highly efficient healthcare system where no one is left behind.

Dr Vaibhav Kapoor, Co-founder, Pristyn care
(DISCLAIMER: The views expressed are solely of the author and ETHealthworld does not necessarily subscribe to it. shall not be responsible for any damage caused to any person / organisation directly or indirectly.)

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