The building and other infrastructure has been laid down by the ESIC with the cost of around 900 crore but due to the reluctance of ESIC now the Himachal govt. has taken over after committing to pay 280 crore over the period of 10 years. But the govt. of Himachal is already in the process of setting medical college in Nahan, Chamba and Hamirpur and is still struggling to lay down the infrastructure required at these places.
The present set up at Ner chowk is world class but to maintain the hospital and medical college enormous funds are required. Govt. is contemplating to run medical college on self financing and increasing NRI quota to garner the funds. If we add some visionary ideas and pragmatic solutions we could create world class facility here which is the demand of time. We have to do some elaborate thinking and develop a business model on the lines of big hospital chains to make it a self sustaining and profitable venture and economic powerhouse for the area to boost employment and economy. Here we should see what are the comparative advantages and risks involved.
1 We have many doctors from Himachal working in the prestigious institutions in the country and abroad and they have made name for themselves in their respective fields. They can be a part of the project since they are emotionally attached to the state and have investment surplus also.
2 India has become a hub of medical tourism in the region and more than five lakh people are coming from abroad for treatment from neighbouring and far off developed countries like US and UK because of the affordability and large diasporas. These people can be wooed to have the treatment in the salubrious climate of Himalayas.
3 We can have high net worth patients from neighbouring state of Punjab and J&k.
4 The patients from nearby district will also come in large number.
5 We are working on the green field international airport in Balh valley which could be a boon for this project.
Now we should examine the shortcomings and likely hardships we can face here.
1 The reluctance on the part of good doctors to move to small town in view of the perceived problems in children education and career progression.
2 Lack of connectivity and bad roads which hampers the faster movement and distance from rail head and airport.
But now things are changing around and many good schools have come up in Mandi and Sundernagar. The four laning of Chandigarh Manali highway up to Ner Chowk will be completed maximum in two years time. Airport too could come if the govt. takes a lead to develop airport on the lines of Cochin international airport in public private mode.
Now we will examine how this project could come up in public private mode to generate return on investments to the investors and world class medical facilities to the people of the region.
Govt. should set up a special purpose vehicle and investment should be sought from locals, NRIs, mutual funds, central govt. and other institutional and private investors. The NRI doctors and super specialists could also be given stock options.
We should rope in prestigious medical institution like Manipal medical college or other reputed one on equity sharing to run medical college so that we do not face the problem of faculty and their experience in running medical colleges and hospital will help us in making world class medical facilities available to general public in the shortest possible time.
The labs are to be developed world class and the private doctors and state govt. institution are to be encouraged to send their samples for testing which at present are being sent to Delhi and Chandigarh. This will generate funds and jobs.
Himachal doctors working abroad and in India are to be approached, vision and model is to be explained to them so as they volunteer to join the initiative.
We have to develop some insurance models for the people of Himachal in collaboration with the state govt. and insurance companies so that we can generate funds on regular basis and provide cashless services to the insurer.
The hospital should provide super speciality in few branches which are in demand like cardiology, neurosurgery, orthopaedics, Gynaecology and others.
The specialists from outside and the country should be allowed access to the facilities after charging them to generate funds and capacity utilization.
The hospital should conduct training programmes for doctors and paramedical, govt. and private to generate funds and broaden their knowledge about the advances in medical science.
The management has to develop synergy with the people who are operating medical tourism business in the country in business mode.
The field of tele medicine is to be explored to full by approaching big employers and public sector companies by developing IT enabled services to provide medical facilities to their employees.
The govt. is working on the programme of school health and maternity care where MOU could be signed with govt. to provide world class facilities on economic package to the govt. for providing prenatal, neonatal care, maternity management for lactating mothers by giving them sms services and sms alerts .
There could be many more ideas which could be incorporated by discussing the initiative with the health experts. Every citizen of Himachal thinks that this facility should be used to its capacity.