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Digital Health Incentives Scheme

  • 08 Aug 2023
  • 6 min read

For Prelims: National Health Authority, Ayushman Bharat Digital Mission, Digital Health Incentives Scheme, Unified Health Interface, Blockchain technology, Telemedicine

For Mains: Features of Ayushman Bharat Digital Mission, Major Challenges Related to Digital Healthcare in India

Source: PIB

Why in News?

National Health Authority (NHA) has announced an extension of its Digital Health Incentives Scheme (DHIS) under the Ayushman Bharat Digital Mission (ABDM).

  • The DHIS, offering incentives of up to Rs. 4 crores, has been extended till December 31, 2023.

What is the Digital Health Incentives Scheme?

  • About:
    • Under the Digital Health Incentives Scheme (DHIS), hospitals, diagnostic labs, and digital health solution providers are incentivized to embrace transformative digitization practices.
    • The scheme operates with the goal of fostering a digitally inclusive healthcare ecosystem that aligns with the larger vision of Ayushman Bharat Digital Mission.
  • Eligibility:
    • Health facilities (hospitals, diagnostic labs) and registered Digital Solution Companies (DSCs) under ABDM's Health Facility Registry (HFR) are eligible to participate in the scheme.
  • Incentive Calculation:
    • The financial incentives are based on the number of digital health records created and linked to Ayushman Bharat Health Account (ABHA) numbers of patients.
  • Achievements:
    • Incentive Recipients: As of June 2023, a total of 1205 health facilities have registered under the DHIS, including 567 public and 638 private hospitals, clinics, and diagnostic labs.
    • Digital Solution Companies: Among the 25 registered digital solution companies, 22 are from the private sector, demonstrating diverse participation.

What is Ayushman Bharat Digital Mission?

  • About:
    • The Ayushman Bharat Digital Mission (ABDM) is a national initiative that aims to develop the digital health infrastructure of the country. It was launched in September, 2021.
      • Ayushman Bharat is a flagship scheme of India which was launched as recommended by the National Health Policy 2017, to achieve the vision of Universal Health Coverage (UHC).
  • Objective:
    • It aims to provide digital health IDs for all Indian citizens to help hospitals, insurance firms, and citizens access health records electronically when required.
      • The National Health Authority (NHA) under the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare is the implementing Agency.
  • Unified Health Interface (UHI):
    • Under ABDM, UHI is envisioned as an open protocol for various digital health services. UHI Network is an open network of End User Applications (EUAs) and participating Health Service Provider (HSP) applications.
      • UHI enables a wide variety of digital health services between patients and health service providers (HSPs) including appointment booking, teleconsultation, service discovery and others.
  • Ayushman Bharat Digital Mission Sandbox:
    • The Sandbox, established under the mission, serves as a platform for testing technology and products.
      • It aids organizations, including private entities, in becoming Health Information Providers or Users.

What are the Major Challenges Related to Digital Healthcare in India?

  • Infrastructure and Connectivity: Despite advancements, a significant portion of India still lacks reliable internet connectivity and necessary digital infrastructure.
    • This hampers the ability to access and deliver digital healthcare services in remote and rural areas.
  • Digital Literacy: Many people, especially in rural areas and older populations, may not be familiar with technology or lack the necessary digital literacy skills to effectively use digital healthcare platforms and services.
  • Data Privacy and Security: Maintaining patient data privacy and security is a significant concern in digital healthcare. Ensuring that sensitive medical information remains confidential and protected from unauthorized access is crucial.
  • Telemedicine Regulations: While telemedicine has gained popularity, regulatory clarity regarding the practice, prescription of medications, and teleconsultation across state lines has been a challenge.

Way Forward

  • Blockchain for Health Records: Implement blockchain technology to securely store and manage electronic health records. Patients could control access to their data while ensuring data integrity and interoperability among healthcare providers.
  • Data Analytics for Public Health: Leverage big data analytics to predict disease outbreaks, plan resource allocation, and devise targeted interventions to manage public health challenges more effectively.
  • Online Training and Skill Development: Train healthcare professionals in using digital tools effectively. Offer online courses for medical professionals to upskill in areas like telemedicine, data analytics, and AI applications in healthcare.
  • Digital Health Policies and Regulations: Establish comprehensive regulations and guidelines for digital health technologies, ensuring patient privacy, data security, and ethical use of digital services and other technologies.
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