Healthcare Leader, Sara Mathew shares solutions to make U.S. healthcare equitable and affordable

Mathew says the healthcare landscape in the U.S. and India face similar issues, and suggested solutions to mitigate the situation.

Yasmin Tinwala

Sara Mathew / Image - Supplied

Recognized as one of Crain’s notable leaders in healthcare, Sara Mathew, was an engineer, when she moved from Mumbai to the U.S. with a passion for solving disparities in access to care and to help improve the healthcare delivery system.

The country that she now calls home provided her with multiple master's programs that encouraged engineers to apply for healthcare administration. Armed with her education both in India and the U.S., Mathew now works at one of the highest-ranked hospitals, New York Presbyterian – Weill Cornell Medicine, as the administrator of the Level 1 Trauma Center and Burn Center.

Earlier this year, Mathew was recognised among individuals across a range of healthcare settings working to address urgent needs within the city’s healthcare system and revolutionizing the healthcare landscape in New York City.

In an exclusive interview with New India Abroad, the healthcare leader shares the major drivers for inequitable healthcare both in India and the U.S., and what can be done to address the gap that exists.

“Inequities exist because the solution hasn't been found yet and multiple stakeholders like hospitals, insurance payors, housing bodies and government entities are working together to resolve this complex problem,” Mathew said about U.S.

According to her the high cost of healthcare services and drugs, and the complex insurance payout system are responsible for furthering  the gaps in equal access to healthcare.

While the poor, old, and disabled have been granted Medicare and Medicaid services, a significant section of this population cannot pay premiums or hospital bills, she highlighted adding that the lack of affordable housing, nutrition, and preventative services further widens the gap.

Commending the Indian healthcare system, Mathew said it has “grown tremendously,” however she believes, “similar issues plague both the US and Indian health systems like easy access for the general population to specialized services and availability of highly trained providers outside the metropolitan cities.”

To solve these issues, Mathew suggested five solutions. These include firstly funding grassroot community organizations that provide housing, food, and medical services in underserved communities.

Implementing telemedicine to help vulnerable communities; Addressing the shortage of qualified primary doctors, nurses, or mental health practitioners by providing full scholarships to students from rural areas; Collecting data to assess the gaps in health outcomes among various sections of the populations and deploy targeted interventions; and finally regulating costs and expanding insurance coverage to the most vulnerable sections of society.

As an immigrant who has achieved her American Dream, Mathew believes that all students aspiring to pursue higher education in the United States should first chose a field they are truly passionate about.

 “Learn to become comfortable with networking and participate in events/activities like case competitions…Expose yourself to new cultures and experiences outside of studying as well and continue to grow personally and professionally,” she advised.

On her future endeavours, she said, “My goal is to be able to use my education and experience in healthcare delivery and apply it across the globe especially in India to help improve access to quality care and would encourage collaborators to reach out to me.”