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Health Stack Is Harder To Roll Out Than Aadhaar: R.s. Sharma




Ayushman Bharat Digital Mission (ABDM), which seeks to build a technology backbone for digital health infrastructure in India, is “much more difficult” to build than Aadhaar, according to Ram Sewak Sharma, chief executive of the National Health Authority (NHA).

Speaking at the Mint AI Summit 2022 held in New Delhi on 29 April, Sharma explained that while Aadhaar had only two parties involved—citizens and the government—the ABDM has multiple players with many levels of involvement such as digitized health records for patients, a health claims exchange for insurers, a health facility registry for doctors, a drug registry, and the involvement of hospitals to consume and process the data.

“Everyone states that this must be easy for you to build, since you’ve already made Aadhaar…I don’t mean to disparage Aadhaar, but this is much more difficult to implement than Aadhaar,” said Sharma.

He also said there was “bipartisan support for Aadhaar across the nation.”

Sharma pointed out that the NHA has already been implementing technologies in the public health infrastructure space with the Pradhan Mantri Jan Arogya Yojna (PMJAY). “We have so far done 30 million hospitalisations in the past 3.5 years as of March 2022, and for this, process 1 million insurance claims per month on average,” he said. Under the PMJAY, the NHA has also created a Health Claims Exchange, which reduces the cost of processing insurance applications for both public and private vendors. “AI, in this field, helps offer services such as predictive analysis and fraud prevention,” Sharma added.

The NHA chief also said over one million data points are generated through the PMJAY insurance claims process. This data trickles down to ABDM, which then implements them within the public health stack—which includes linking historical records of patients, offering a network of doctors and medical service providers, and a linked registry of drugs.

The Ayushman Bharat Health Account Number, which is the public identifier under ABDM, will be linked to Aadhaar and will contain all past and present details of medical transactions made by a patient. The Health Facility Registry for medical service providers such as doctors and paramedics, and the Drug Registry for linked supplies of medicines, will be the “building blocks that will interact so that the patient will have their longitudinal health records, can share consent digitally, and host online and remote consultations with doctors,” according to Sharma.

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