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India’s National Health Authority Encourages Adoption of Ayushman Bharat Digital Mission

The National Health Authority (NHA) recently reached out to stakeholders to brainstorm solutions and steps to enable rapid adoption of the government’s Ayushman Bharat Digital Mission (ABDM) across the country.

ABDM is a national-level digital health ecosystem that intends to support universal health coverage (UHC) in an accessible, inclusive, and affordable manner, through the provision of big data and infrastructure services, and by leveraging open, interoperable, standards-based digital systems. At the same time, the government is keen on ensuring the security, confidentiality, and privacy of health-related personal information.

NHA organised a workshop gathering State Mission Directors, the Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority (IRDAI), WHO, health industry leaders, health-tech companies, development organisations, and partner NGOs.

As part of the event, the team visited a government hospital, the C V Raman General Hospital, for a walk-through of ABDM-enabled processes adopted by the hospital and their on-ground impact. The hospital had recently implemented a QR code-based outpatient department (OPD) registration service, which has helped them reduce the waiting time in the OPD block considerably.

During the workshop, participants discussed the latest developments under ABDM, which will enable complete interoperability in the health sector. They also explored how the effective adoption of ABDM can lead to UHC. The State Mission Directors from the states of Karnataka, West Bengal, Uttar Pradesh, and Andhra Pradesh, which are among the early adopters of ABDM, shared their experiences from ABHA creation and the linking of health records at public hospitals and as part of state health programmes.

The Chairman of the Capacity Building Commission and Quality Council of India, Adil Zainulbhai, spoke about working on strengthening the digital health ecosystem by developing more use cases like the QR-code-based OPD registrations and working on policy frameworks to accelerate the adoption of ABDM.

NHA CEO, R. S. Sharma, claimed that ABDM is a complex scheme with many layers of technical capabilities and a vast set of stakeholders. Bringing them all together and creating a platform for collaboration is the main challenge. However, reciprocity among stakeholders is important to ensure the scheme’s adoption. This workshop helped gather the stakeholders’ perspectives and the government intends to hold some more collective brainstorming sessions in the future, he added.

ABDM will connect the digital health solutions of hospitals and other health facilities across the country with each other. The digital ecosystem will also enable a host of other facilities like teleconsultation and paperless health records. The digitisation of health records will ensure that old medical records of patients cannot get lost and are accessible to them anytime, anywhere. Ensuring the necessary IT infrastructure and implementation of hospital information management systems across health facilities at the state and union territory level will enable the seamless creation and exchange of digital health records across the ecosystem.

Earlier in August, NHA issued hardware guidelines for state and union territory hospitals, clinics, and wellness centres. The aim is to promote digitsation in healthcare institutions. The guidelines briefly describe the required infrastructure for the efficient implementation of the ABDM, with a particular focus on quality patient care and the adoption of digital initiatives.

As OpenGov Asia reported, the guidelines provide a basic framework for the planning, assessment, and procurement of the IT hardware (including IT specifications of various hardware equipment) based on the size of the healthcare facility. It will enable healthcare providers to operate applications compliant with the ABDM.

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