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Home / Health Insurance / Articles / ABDM / ABHA Card / ABDM - Ayushman Bharat Digital Mission | NDHM : Revolutionising Indian Healthcare

ABDM - Ayushman Bharat Digital Mission | NDHM : Revolutionising Indian Healthcare

TeamAckoFeb 21, 2024

ABDM: India is on a mission to revolutionise healthcare access and delivery. A critical component of this ambition is the Ayushman Bharat Digital Mission (ABDM)—a flagship initiative working to develop the digital health infrastructure across the country. Launched in 2021 under the National Digital Health Mission, ABDM aims to create a seamless online platform that brings healthcare providers and patients to a unified network to improve efficiency, transparency, and patient outcomes.

Ayushman Bharat Digital Mission (ABDM)

Contents

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The Need for Digital Transformation in Healthcare

India grapples with a vast diversity in demography, geography, and healthcare challenges. The current systems need to be more cohesive across public and private sectors, making accessing and sharing health records difficult. Patients also have little control over their own medical data. 

ABDM seeks to fix these gaps by introducing digitisation and enabling interoperability. Some key objectives include:

Developing patient-centric health records: ABDM will provide every Indian citizen with a unique 14-digit health ID that centralises medical history, prescriptions, and diagnosis reports into one record. This puts patients in control of their data.

Connecting hospitals/clinics via the Healthcare Professionals Registry (HPR): Healthcare providers can list their details via the HPR, allowing seamless identification and interconnectivity via ABDM.

Enabling EHR systems compatibility: ABDM will standardise data storage formats so that electronic health record (EHR) systems used by different healthcare providers can freely 'talk' to each other.

Allowing private apps integration: Patients can integrate health apps and wearables to their ABDM records and share digital health data with doctors for improved monitoring.

Introducing digitally-signed health records: Data entries made by healthcare providers will be digitally signed and tamper-proof, increasing accountability and transparency.

This infrastructure aims to make affordable, patient-centric, and paperless healthcare a reality even in India's remotest corners.

Key Components of the Ayushman Bharat Digital Mission

The nationwide rollout of the ABDM leans on three foundational building blocks designed to work together:

1. 14-Digit Unique Health ID

This ABHA Card (Ayushman Bharat Health Account) number is a unique patient identifier across healthcare providers, similar to Aadhar. It will: 

  • Store medical history records in a common repository

  • Help create a longitudinal patient health record over their lifetime

  • Avoid duplication of patient records

Newborns will get a health ID linking to the mother's number. IDs can also be created by providing a mobile number or Aadhaar details. 

2. Healthcare Professionals Registry (HPR)

The HPR is a comprehensive registry of healthcare practitioners across modern and traditional systems. It verifies qualifications and training credentials. Enlisting in the HPR is essential for professionals to access and update digital health records for consenting patients on the ABDM network. Private and government hospitals are also expected to link up their EMR systems. 

3. Health Facility Registry (HFR)

The HFR provides a registry of health facilities like hospitals, labs, and clinics. It allows citizens to search and identify verified healthcare providers and book appointments. After furnishing valid medical licenses and credentials, healthcare facilities can list themselves on the HFR.

The ABDM Rollout Strategy 

As one of the global key digitisation initiatives, the rollout plan is both ambitious in scale and careful in approach. It includes:

Six initial pilot projects: Starting in 2021, ABDM was tested across different models of implementation spanning private hospitals, state government partnerships, pharmaceutical ecosystem integration, etc. These pilots helped develop centralised protocols. 

Phased launch starting with metro cities: In 2022, ABDM services were extended to metro cities in phase 1, reaching beyond pilot regions. This allows ironing out of interoperability and capacity-building across sizable populations.  

Expansion to underserved locations: Reaching tier 2 and 3 cities plus rural and remote regions is a priority going into 2023 and beyond. Private partnerships, digital health training and guidance documents will aid adoption.

Population-scale 65,000 health facility onboarding: On the services side, NHA plans to onboard at least 65,000 health facilities spanning public and private hospitals, PHCs, labs etc, onto the ABDM network within a year of national launch.

The Benefits of ABDM for Indian Citizens 

While India still has significant ground to cover, if implemented to its full scope, ABDM promises tremendous direct and indirect benefits.

1. Portable health records

Patients can securely access medical history from any location and share digitally signed e-records instantly with professionals. Crucial in medical emergencies.

2. Improved coordination between providers

Shared health records allow doctors to collaborate better for continuous care. Vital for patients consulting multiple speciality centers.

3. Streamlined appointment booking

Citizens can use ABDM to search for doctors or facilities near them and book appointments via integrated online payment gateways. Saves time and money.  

4. Enhanced privacy and security

Healthcare data is highly confidential. Stringent measures for encryption and consent-based access ensure ethical use. Patients stay informed. 

5. Analytical health data availability

Anonymised, aggregated health analytics can help institutions develop data-driven interventions and resource allocation strategies for better population health outcomes.

The Road Ahead

Within two years of a soft launch, the ABDM has built robust foundations centred around its health account architecture and supportive registries. With learnings from pilot projects, early insights look promising.  

However, nationwide execution is an ongoing process. Over 50,000 health facilities have already been onboarded, but much more needs to adapt to digitisation. Concerns around compatibility, cybersecurity, and lack of technical readiness need addressing as integrations expand, especially where resources are scarce. Training support and upgrades are essential.

If foundations hold firm, the interconnected 'digital public goods' envisaged have the potential to rapidly shape India's healthcare landscape for the next decade, impacting millions. The blueprint also contains valuable learnings for other nations considering large-scale health tech innovation through a coordinated public-private approach.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Here are a few common questions and answers related to the ABDM

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Which is the nodal agency of ayushman bharat digital mission (ABDM)?

The National Health Authority (NHA) is the nodal agency responsible for the nationwide implementation of ABDM.

What is ABDM National Health Authority?

The National Health Authority (NHA) is the apex government body setting standards, implementing, monitoring, and managing the Ayushman Bharat Digital Mission and other public digital health programs.

What is the use of ABDM?

ABDM aims to provide digital health ID to Indian citizens, connect hospitals/clinics via a Healthcare Professionals Registry (HPR), enable compatible Electronic Health Records (EHR) systems, allow integration with personal health apps/wearables, and introduce tamper-proof, digitally signed records to make affordable, accessible and paperless healthcare a reality.

What is the Ayushman Bharat Digital Mission Insurance Scheme?

The Ayushman Bharat Digital Mission facilitates seamless discovery, cashless transactions, and paperless health service delivery for those with existing health insurance like the Ayushman Bharat PMJAY scheme.

What is the difference between the Ayushman Bharat Digital Mission and the Pradhan Mantri Digital Health Mission?

Ayushman Bharat Digital Mission (ABDM) is the official name of the digital health initiative previously known as the National Digital Health Mission (NDHM) during early development. The public branding was updated to align with the Ayushman Bharat PMJAY scheme.

Who owns and manages the NDHM portal?

Post rebranding to ABDM, the National Health Authority (NHA) under the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare now owns and manages the official portal ndhm.gov.in

Is Ayushman Bharat Digital Mission mandatory for private hospitals?

Currently, onboarding onto ABDM through linking hospital EMR systems with ABDM gateways is voluntary for private hospitals. However, hospitals must furnish valid credentials for listing on the Healthcare Facility Registry. In the future, meeting certain ABDM compliance standards may become compulsory for empanelment eligibility, similar to existing government health schemes.

Recent News on ABDM

Ayushman Bharat Healthcare Coverage to Include ASHA and Anganwadi Workers

The Indian government has now included ASHA and Anganwadi workers under health insurance. Through the Ayushman Bharat Pradhan Mantri-Jan Arogya Yojana (AB-PMJAY), these workers will now access up to Rs 5 lakh annually for hospitalisation expenses, aligning them with other beneficiaries.

This decision reflects the government's commitment to equitable healthcare access and acknowledges the critical role played by frontline workers in community health services. It marks a significant stride towards enhancing healthcare provisions nationwide.

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