Indu Bhushan, CEO of Ayushman Bharat and the National Health Authority (NHA), on Thursday (August 27), announced on Twitter that the National Digital Health Mission (NDHM) Sandbox was live. “Inviting healthcare providers, software providers, startups to join us in co-developing tech products for one of the largest digital health ecosystems in the world,” Bhushan wrote in his tweet.
On August 15, India’s 74th Independence Day, Prime Minister Narendra Modi launched the NDHM, envisaged as a digital health ecosystem with personal health IDs for every Indian, digitisation of health records as well as a registry of doctors and health facilities across the country.
The health IDs for citizens would be applicable across states, hospitals, diagnostic laboratories and pharmacies, with plans to bring aboard online pharmacies at a later stage. Further, the scheme would also make provisions for enrolment of ‘Digi Doctor’, allowing patients to avail online consultation with doctors.
The recently launched sandbox will allow the NHA, the authority overseeing the NDHM, for testing new products and technologies in a contained environment for a defined period of time to eventually ensure successful full-scale deployment of tried and tested products in the market.
“Because there are boundary conditions – the risk is minimised and the emphasis is on feedback, learning and compliance to defined standards required to become a part of NDHM. This will provide an opportunity to identify, understand, adapt and respond to these disruptive new products and services in a timely and appropriate fashion,” read the NDHM Sandbox guidelines. The Sandbox is open to healthcare service providers, hospitals, healthcare software vendors and anyone who wants to build NDHM APIs (application programming interface).
The guidelines mention that the sandbox is open to all upon request. “If your request is approved, you will get access to the sandbox to build or/and expand your products in the healthcare/health tech industry. This is your chance to partner with NDHM, by enabling and empowering the products with the core building blocks of the Mission. For the government sector as well, APIs and platforms shall be available for integration with the NDHM ecosystem.”
The announcement of the NDHM, best understood as the UPI for healthcare in India — digitally encapsulating all records and history of an individual’s health and wellness — has inspired confidence among Indian startups already working in the sphere. The mission already has over a dozen companies and organisations working together, including 1mg, Practo, mfine, National Cancer Grid, LiveHealth and DRiefcase, among others. This week’s The Outline by Inc42+ was a deep-dive into what the NDHM could mean for India’s healthtech startups and the larger healthcare ecosystem in India.