Govt Plans Centralised Digital Entity For ‘Ayushman Bharat’ Scheme

The Indian government is in discussions to set up a new digital entity called the National Digital Health Mission that will act as a central digital repository for all the data coming under its flagship health insurance scheme Ayushman Bharat.  A report filed by a committee set up by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare has identified the need to establish a specialized body called National Digital Health Mission (NDHM) which is to be based on similar models as seen in the likes of UIDAI and GSTN. The report is open for public comments till August 4.

Some of the proposed provisions under the NDHM are –

  • Citizens should be able to access their electronic health records in a convenient manner, preferably within 5 clicks;
  • Citizens should get integrated health services at a single point, though multiple agencies, departments or services providers are involved;
  • NDHM shall assure continuum of care to citizens, across primary, secondary and tertiary care and across public and private service providers;
  • A framework for unified communication centre will be prepared to facilitate voice-based services and outreach;
  • NDHM shall support national portability for healthcare services

National Digital Health Mission Objectives

The report also recommends that the NDHB will be an open API-based ecosystem where security and privacy will be built into the design and development of the APIs, which will be audited for security and privacy before deployment.

The 14-member committee recommended that consultations should be held with Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI), the Aadhaar regulatory authority, and the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MEITy) in the design of the Personal Health Identifier (PHI).

“Aadhaar cannot be used in every health context as per the applicable regulations. The design of PHI, therefore, must allow multiple identifiers (chosen from the specified types of identifiers) for designing the structure and processes relating to PHI,” said a National Digital Health Blueprint (NDHB) created by a committee under former MeitY Secretary and UIDAI ex-chairman J Satyanarayana.

The PHI will maintain a personal health record of patients and will have details about their immediate family, date of birth, gender, mobile number, email address, location, family ID and photograph.

India’s Ayushman Bharat Plan

Under the Ayushman Bharat, India is expected to have 40,000 Ayushman Bharat Health and Wellness Centres (AB-HWC), meant for primary health care, by the end of 2019-20.  The mega public health insurance scheme called Pradhan Mantri Jan Arogya Yojana (PM-JAY) and popularly known as the Ayushman Bharat, also has an app on Google Play Store.

At the Union Budget 2019, the government announced that it will allocate INR 6,400 Cr for the implementation of Ayushman Bharat. The allocation has increased by INR 4K Cr from 2017-18, while overall INR 10K crore has been allocated to implement AB until 2020.

Overall, the Indian healthcare market stands at $100 Bn, according to IBEF and is expected to touch $280 Bn by 2020, growing at a CAGR of 22.9%.

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