When it comes to national healthcare, most people are sharply divided on how it should be run and who ought to call the shots. At the end of the day, it largely comes down to one’s ideology, with socialists supporting a government-run operation i.e. socialized healthcare and capitalists supporting free-market solutions. While the success or failure of either system depends on a multitude of factors such as the country’s prosperity, size, and homogeneity of the population, the median age of citizens, the technology available, and importance emphasized on healthcare, both wholly private and solely public ownership of this utility have several substantial drawbacks.
Exclusively government-run healthcare systems suffer from three fundamental flaws, which are a lack of accountability, slow, bureaucratic functioning, and low innovation brought about by the non-existence of competition. Purely private healthcare systems, on the other hand, suffer from higher prices, and as profit-driven organizations, they are forced to prioritize returns to their shareholders over the wellness of their patients.
When both work in unison, however, everything changes as a result of synergy, as both public and private healthcare systems have their own distinct advantages, and cooperating allows them to benefit from these said advantages and eliminates many of the drawbacks. For example, the private sector would never work on a cure for an extremely rare disease such as ALS, and this is because it simply would not be profitable. There just aren’t enough people who suffer from the condition to justify the tens of millions of dollars in research and development that would go to finding a cure, and this expenditure would far exceed any revenue that the company could hope to make on the sale of such a drug. In cases such as these, the public sector steps in and either look into developing a cure itself or subsidizes the costs of research and development thereby providing relief to patients.
Similarly, in emergency situations such as the Ebola outbreak of 2014, or the Bird Flu scares of 2006 and 2009, when the private sector through its superior R&D is able to develop a new medicine, treatment, or vaccine, that country desperately needs, the government can bear costs of manufacturing and distribution directly or through its affiliates. This joint action would go a long way preventing an epidemic from turning into a pandemic.
Healthcare is a service, and like any service, the thing that matters the most is customer satisfaction i.e. getting people the best treatment for the lowest prices as quickly as possible. When acting individually, both socialized and privatized healthcare systems have proven to be less than ideal, but when working together they’ve shown remarkable promise. Perhaps the most endearing testament to the effectiveness of Public-Private partnerships in healthcare is the eradication of smallpox where the World Health Organisation along with national governments and private sector companies came together and for the first time in human history eliminate an entire disease from existence. The campaign was such a success that in 1980 smallpox was effectively ‘eradicated’ having killed an estimated 300-500 million human beings since antiquity.
In a country as large, diverse, and resource-starved as India, a public-private healthcare partnership may just be enough to solve many of the problems that the system still faces, 72 years after independence. It’s the only way to properly ensure that all Indians regardless of income can be guaranteed a dignified standard of healthcare. Which is why, ZHL has worked closely with the Union and state governments on several projects across the heartland, to provide Indians with some the best ambulance facilities the country has to offer. As providers of healthcare we feel compelled to doing our part in giving our customers as well as the general public access to quality healthcare and we strongly believe that the private sector tying up with the government is the most effective way to do it.