The inception of the Unified Payments Interface (UPI) made money-transferring from one bank to another a walk in the park. With 30 crore users all over India, UPI has now become a vital part of India. Now, the National Health Authority has rolled out the Ayushman Bharat Health Account (ABHA), which will unify individuals with hospitals all over India through a unified platform of storing all our health records in one place.
During the APAC 6th National HealthTech Innovation Conclave press conference, Dr. Basant Garg, Additional CEO, National Health Authority, gave us a detailed explanation of how ABHA will change the future of healthcare through technology.
What is Ayushman Bharat Health Account (ABHA)?
The official site of Ayushman Bharat Digital Mission explains, “The Ayushman Bharat Health Account (ABHA) Number will be used for the purposes of uniquely identifying persons, authenticating them, and threading their health records (only with the informed consent of the patient) across multiple systems and stakeholders.”
Ayushman Bharat Health Account (ABHA’s) Aim
Dr. Garg, during the conclave, said, “It aims to revolutionize the health sector by leveraging technology. The mission was launched in September 2021 with the vision to change the way all citizens interact with the health ecosystem and the way health transactions take place.” Citing the success of Aadhaar (informally called Unique Identification Authority of India) and CoWIN (Covid Vaccine Intelligence Network), Dr. Garg said ABHA is already being used by 43 crore people, where they are linking their health records with their ABHA ID and will soon reach the entire population of India.
What does ABHA enable?
“Ayushman Bharat Health Account (ABHA) enables a citizen to link all their health records,” says Dr. Garg. We visit several hospitals, public and private, along with clinics and come out with a lot of physical copies of reports which we then carry from one place to another.
If all the hospitals are interoperable in a network with a unique health ID for all citizens, then the record available in that hospital can be linked and made available to individuals on their handheld device and that record can only be shared with the consent of the individual in question with other healthcare institutions, and that is the aim of ABHA.
Dr. Garg says, “Imagine the kind of efficiency this introduces into the system, wherein you don’t need to carry any physical record. It improves clinical decision-making by the doctor, reduces repetitive testing because you are carrying the test reports.”
National Health Claims Exchange (HCX)
Citing the long duration of discharge of patients from hospitals, Dr. Garg touches upon the subject of insurance claims and the tedious process behind it. Developed by the National Health Authority (NHA), the HCX aims to enable the interoperability of health claims by creating an ecosystem that is machine adjudicated. Its inception will ensure all of the work to be done in real-time, reducing the cost of claim settlement and increasing the availability of beds in hospitals by 8%.
Scan and Share app
Dr. Garg also talks about the high speed OPD service, known as Scan and Share, which was launched in Lady Hardinge Medical College in December, in Delhi. Within only a few months, 1700 hospitals are now using this service. The QR code based service enables an individual to use their Public Health Record app and ABHA ID to send their demographic information to the OPD counter within seconds and they only need to visit the OPD counter to know the department that they have to visit.
DR. Garg hopes for a future where more and more people join this ecosystem and reap the benefits of not having to wait to receive services in the health sector. He also takes into consideration the fact that the entire population of India does not have smartphones or feature phones, and wishes to develop a solution where they would be able to become a part of the “digital way of health”.