The impacts of corporatisation of healthcare on medical practice and professionals in Maharashtra, India

Marathe, Shweta, Hunter, Benjamin M, Chakravarthi, Indira, Shukla, Abhay and Murray, Susan F (2020) The impacts of corporatisation of healthcare on medical practice and professionals in Maharashtra, India. BMJ Global Health, 5 (2). pp. 1-9. ISSN 2059-7908

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A heterogeneous private sector dominates healthcare provision in many middle-income countries. In India the contemporary period has seen this sector undergo corporatisation processes characterised by emergence of large private hospitals and the takeover of medium-sized and charitable hospitals by corporate entities. Little is known about the operations of these private providers and the effects on healthcare professions as employment shifts from practitioner-owned small and medium hospitals to larger corporate settings. This article uses data from a mixed-methods study in two large cities in Maharashtra, India, to consider the implications of these contemporary changes for the medical profession. Data were collected from semi-structured interviews with 43 respondents who have detailed knowledge of healthcare in Maharashtra, and from a witness seminar on the topic of transformation in Maharashtra’s healthcare system. Transcripts from the interviews and witness seminar were analysed thematically through a combination of deductive and inductive approaches. Our findings point to a restructuring of medical practice in Maharashtra as training shifts towards private education and employment to those corporate hospitals. The latter is fuelled by substantial personal indebtedness, dwindling appeal of government employment, reduced opportunities to work in smaller private facilities, and the perceived benefits of work in larger providers. We describe a ‘re-professionalisation’ of medicine encompassing changes in employment relations, performance targets and constraints placed on professional autonomy within the private healthcare sector, that is accompanied by trends in cost inflation, medical malpractice, and distrust in doctor-patient relationships. The accompanying ‘re-stratification’ within this part of the profession affords prestige and influence to ‘star doctors’ while eroding the status and opportunity for young and early career doctors. The research raises important questions about the role that government and medical professionals’ bodies can, and should, play in contemporary transformation of private healthcare, and the implications of these trends for health systems more broadly.

Item Type: Article
Schools and Departments: School of Global Studies > Anthropology
School of Global Studies > International Development
Subjects: R Medicine > RA Public aspects of medicine > RA0001 Medicine and the state. Including medical statistics, medical economics, provisions for medical care, medical sociology
Depositing User: Benjamin Hunter
Date Deposited: 07 Jan 2020 08:24
Last Modified: 18 Feb 2020 16:00

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Project NameSussex Project NumberFunderFunder Ref
Practices, regulation and accountability in the evolving private healthcare sector: lessons from Maharashtra State, IndiaUnsetJoint Health Systems Research Initiative (MRC, ESRC, Wellcome, DfID)MR/R003009/1