In a move that can provide cheaper and faster treatment to patients and ease the load on the state healthcare machinery, the government has outsourced diagnostic facilities to a private company, HLL Life Care, for primary health centres (PHC), rural and district hospitals. The public health department expects to shed off the burden of conducting at least 22,000 tests in a month through this. For patients, this will do away with the need to approach private hospitals for routine tests in the absence of technicians and equipment at government facilities.
The government has asked HLL Life Care to submit the reports of blood tests, urine tests and for common ailments within a day to the hospitals. The reports are to be mailed directly to the PHCs or hospitals concerned. While the tests will be free of cost for patients, the state will pay Rs 70 per test to the company. “So far, this service has started in 15 districts,” said Dr Satish Pawar, director of Directorate of Health Services (DHS). The project has missed its deadline of May 15, when the service was to become functional across Maharashtra. Of the 200 laboratories expected to be set up after certification from the National Accreditation Board for Hospital and Healthcare providers (NABH), 25 have been started so far.
Apart from medical colleges, in a year, over 6 crore patients visit out-patient departments of rural hospitals and PHCs. Ten per cent of these require further investigation through tests. So far, patients were forced to visit private clinics to undergo tests due to the long waiting period or lack of technicians in state hospitals. The facility will benefit patients in 1,181 PHCs and 508 rural and district hospitals.