Partnership is nothing but a synergistic relationship between two or more individuals or organizations that share mutual liabilities with some expected benefits. The scale may range from local partnerships between individuals to global partnerships between multinational companies. Availability of resources in terms of both manpower and finance, legal and regulatory framework, transparency, accountability, commitment and mutual understanding are most needed for any kind of partnership.
Due to changing epidemiology of diseases, there is an increasing need for well developed infrastructure and advanced technology to provide better diagnosis and treatment of diseases. Public and private sectors – neither of them alone has been perspicacious enough to attain the goals and objectives of healthcare industry. Constant surge in healthcare costs has made it barely possible for any single organization to provide quality and affordable services independently without partnering with other organizations thus giving a great scope for the public and private sectors of the healthcare industry to collaborate with each other. Therefore, over the past two decades, the public and private sectors together have been addressing the health needs of the country and working towards providing equitable access and quality service to the public.
Contracting management, joint ventures, mobile health units, franchising, telemedicine and social marketing are some of the common models of public-private partnerships in healthcare industry.
Two main objectives of a Public-Private Partnership (PPP) are universal healthcare access and profitable healthcare facility. Around twenty percent of the total healthcare expenses in India are contributed by the public sector while the remaining is by the private sector. Issues like public health, hospitals, sanitation, etc. are under the control of state government, while others such as drugs, family planning and education are under the control of central government. Free market economy drives the investments in private sector thus keeping most of their services out of reach of common public owing to cost consideration. Public sector seeks the contribution of private sectors for service delivery in many areas such as infrastructure development, management and operations, information technology and materials management. Likewise, private sector seeks the participation of public sector in key aspects such as land acquisition to set up infrastructure, equity participation and fiscal benefits, grants for operating expenses etc. Thus the public and private sectors together address the issues pertaining to quality healthcare, healthcare costs and equitable access by amalgamating the best features of both the sectors.
Healthcare industry needs to be strengthened at all levels starting from appointing highly skilled professionals like doctors, nurses, pharmacists and laboratory technicians to installation of beds, water supply and sanitation facilities at healthcare units. As already stated, a huge amount of investment in the healthcare industry goes into setting up infrastructure. Government mandated the participation of private sector as well as third-party financing mechanisms to minimize the out-of-pocket cost burden on patients. Apart from financial gain, partnerships often help in knowledge transfer, especially in case of partnership between public sector and NGOs. Information technology assists in maintaining health data repositories while providing access to clinical information.