India’s Secret to Low-Cost Health Care
Harvard Business Review - 10/15/2013
A renowned Indian heart surgeon is currently building a 2,000-bed, internationally accredited “health city” in the Cayman Islands, a short flight from the U.S. Its services will include tertiary care procedures, such as open-heart surgery, angioplasty, knee or hip replacement, and neurosurgery for about 40% of U.S. prices. Patients will have the option of recuperating for a week or two in the Caymans before returning to the U.S.
At a time when health care costs in the United States threaten to bankrupt the federal government, U.S. hospitals would do well to take a leaf or two from the book of Indian doctors and hospitals that are treating problems of the eye, heart, and kidney all the way to maternity care, orthopedics, and cancer for less than 5% to 10% of U.S. costs by using practices commonly associated with mass production and lean production.
The nine Indian hospitals we studied are not cheap because their care is shoddy; in fact, most of them are accredited by the U.S.-based Joint Commission International or its Indian equivalent, theNational Accreditation Board for Hospitals. Where available, data show that their medical outcomes are as good as or better than the average U.S. hospital.