He added that while the public dashboard will provide real-time information on the mission’s progress at state level, a health registry being prepared by the body will also help the government ascertain the exact number of professional medical practitioners in the country.
Sharma added that the Ayushman Bharat Digital Mission (ABDM) public dashboard gives a transparent view of the number of ABHA (earlier known as health IDs) generated on nationally and in States, that are further segregated on the basis of gender and age. The ABDM ecosystem includes central and state governments, hospitals, clinics, labs, pharmacies, wellness centres, TPAs, insurers, regulators, associations, among others.
Sharma explained that while ABDM aims to develop the backbone necessary to support the integrated digital health infrastructure of the country, it will also function as “one point solution” to know the truth about state of health activity in any part of the country. “For instance, if for a patient we want to create a longitudinal health record, we want to ensure the tele consults are done in a formal way, digital prescriptions are issued and are valid, diagnostic reports are shared on the platform. More people are using video calls and tele consults now, but the system needs to be formalised so that the interest of all the stakeholders are considered, and quality of treatment is according to standards.”The project has been conceived to create the building blocks of a system like that, he added.
The government’s push for tele consultations increased Covid-19 pandemic showed how rural and semi-urban population was not able to access the best healthcare due to a lack of up to date medical infrastructure. As part of digital health ecosystem in the country the ministry has launched e-Sanjeevani, a telemedicine service to provide general and specialised health services in rural areas.
Experts note that currently healthcare in rural and remote areas is provided by a small number of government and private nursing homes that have been unable to keep up with the rising demand, or by quacks mainly in rural areas. “Our health professional registry is being prepared and this will include only those medical practitioners who are qualified in their area of medicine. Only they will be visible in the system. We will be able to remove those who are not qualified. People might still go to them but they will have a way to know who is qualified and who is not,” Sharma said. “Besides, many hospitals claim to use tele consult facilities but in reality the tools keep lying there. This will help us keep a track,” he added.
For Health Facility Registry as of now, the dashboard presents the data in infographics based on ownership (government or private), systems of medicine (Modern Medicine – Allopathy, Ayurveda, Sowa- Rigpa, Physiotherapy, Unani, Dentistry, Siddha, Homeopathy etc.) among other classifications.
Sharma who had recently announced the that CoWIN platform for Universal Immunisation Programme and other national health programmes will be repurposed while continuing with its current function of recording Covid-19 vaccination and issuing certificates, said another utility of the ABDM is also to ensure efficient record-keeping to help effective interventions. “The idea is to make it like CoWIN so that there is documentation for everything. This will also ensure no one fudges any records and makes claims that are not true,” Sharma said.
“There are three metrics, how much work has been done..how many health facilities have been registered state wise and district wise, how many health professionals have been registered and how many Ayushman Bharat health accounts have been created. This will help us track everything and since an activity will generate the numbers, the automation provides a sense of what is happening on the ground and what more needs to be done.”
As of now a total of 22.1 crore ABHAs have been created, over 16.6 thousand healthcare professionals have registered on the HPR, over 69.4 thousand health facilities have registered on the HFR, more than 1.8 lakh health records already linked by users, and the recently revamped ABHA app has crossed over 5.1 lakh downloads, Sharma said the numbers are set to improve as more hospitals and medical professionals come on board.
It will also help the government to know the exact number of certified medical professionals in the country, and those who can travel abroad and also boost the country’s efforts here as a medical tourism hub, Sharma added. Minister of Health and Family Welfare Mansukh Mandaviya recently had launched Heal in India to help the country showcase its healthcare ecosystem and world-class medical facilities to the world, and also a ‘Heal by India’ programme to provide an opportunity for our medical workforce to travel to different countries.