Career Focus

Rising demand for home care professionals

Employment in this sunrise industry is expected to double in the next few years, offering a plethora of job opportunities   Indra Gidwani

With the general practitioner who makes house calls a rare, if not extinct, species in contemporary India, a whole new home healthcare industry has mushroomed countrywide. According to Bangalore-based Dr. Anitha Arockiasamy, president of the India Home Health Care Pvt. Ltd (IHHC, estb. 2009), headquartered in Chennai, the revenue of the home healthcare sector is currently estimated at Rs.13,200 crore and growing at 16 percent per year.

Certainly, IHHC has entered the healthcare industry at the right time. Employment in this sunrise industry, already over 4 million, is expected to double in the next few years, and offers medical professionals, including paramedics, a plethora of job opportunities.

Study programmes

With the emergence of this nexgen industry, edupreneurs have begun to offer study programmes in finance, communications and operations related to Indian healthcare. Today, undergrad and postgraduate degree and diploma programmes in healthcare management are available to school and college-leavers. Moreover, graduates with degrees in biology, medicine, pharmacy, nursing, physiotherapy and biotechnology, besides paramedics, have a wide range of high-potential career options in the healthcare sector. Some B-schools also offer postgraduate certification in healthcare management.

Among the reputed healthcare management institutes for post-graduate studies are the Institute of Health Management Research, Jaipur; TISS, Mumbai; All India Institute of Medical Research, Delhi; Apollo Institute of Hospital Administration, Hyderabad; DMS, Madurai Kamraj University, Madurai; Christian Medical College, Vellore; Institute of Pharmaceutical and Healthcare Management and Research, Kolkata; ASCI Hinduja Institute of Healthcare Management, Hyderabad and KEM Healthcare Management Institute, Pune.

Employment options

Obvious jobs such as doctors and nurses apart, the healthcare industry also offers career paths in marketing, health information, human resource development and finance with starting pay packages varying between Rs.6-10 lakh per year. For individuals with life skills of people management and compassion, in addition to professional qualifications, there’s a bright future, particularly if they are capable of working long hours under pressure.

“India has the second largest geriatric population in the world and is expected to host 300 million people in the 60-plus age group within the next ten years. But although life expectancy has increased, the number of people afflicted with chronic ailments including cancer, which can be treated at home, has multiplied. Unfortunately there’s a grave shortage of appropriately trained and qualified healthcare professionals to provide home care. There’s a massive inadequacy of nurses, physiotherapists and medical caregivers trained for home care. In addition, there aren’t enough professionals trained to manage healthcare personnel and provide back office services,” says Arockiasamy, an alumna of Madurai Medical College who pressed on to acquire a Masters in health finance and management from the Bloomberg School of Public Health of the highly reputed Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, USA.

Career progression

After her postgraduation, Arockiasamy acquired professional experience working with the Johns Hopkins healthcare system before returning to India in 2005, and signing up as a management consultant in the healthcare practice of Technopak Advisors.

In 2011, she signed up with IHHC as a senior consultant and was subsequently appointed president of the company. Founded six years ago by a team of healthcare professionals, IHHC prides itself on providing high quality and reliable home healthcare services “through state of the art processes”. Based in Chennai, IHHC has extended its footprint to Bangalore, Hyderabad, Pune and Ahmedabad and is the preferred home healthcare provider of all major hospitals in those cities. In 2013, the Philadelphia-based Bayada (estb. 1975) acquired an undisclosed equity stake in IHHC.

“India has already established a reputation as a prime destination for high-end diagnostic services and is experiencing a huge influx of capital investment in these industries. Therefore a career in home healthcare is very promising,” says Arockiasamy.

This is surely very good news for healthcare professionals, especially paramedics, who prefer flexible hours of work in changing environments, and also for India’s rising population of the elderly who — quite justifiably — dread the prospect of being treated in the country’s rapacious and impersonal hospitals.