Union budget 2022: Centre to stress on digital health care

Updated on Feb 02, 2022 07:00 AM IST

Prime Minister Narendra Modi had launched the Ayushman Bharat Digital Mission on September 27, which the finance minister had said will be rolled out this year.

The health care industry welcomed the initiative and said it will help people to better access health services.(Representative image)
The health care industry welcomed the initiative and said it will help people to better access health services.(Representative image)

India will digitise the country’s health care delivery system by building registries of health providers and facilities, providing unique health identity to all residents, preparing a consent framework and ensuring universal access to health care, finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman said in her Budget speech in Parliament.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi had launched the Ayushman Bharat Digital Mission on September 27, which the finance minister had said will be rolled out this year.

“An open platform for the National Digital Health Ecosystem will be rolled out,” Sitharaman said on Tuesday.

“Leveraging the power of technology, the National Digital Health Ecosystem will significantly enhance ‘Ease of Living’ for citizens & create a healthier India. #AatmaNirbharBharatKaBudget,” health minister Mansukh Mandaviya tweeted after the budget announcement.

The health care industry welcomed the initiative and said it will help people to better access health services.

“The rollout of a National Digital Health Ecosystem will ensure that all segments of the society are able to access affordable and adequate health care in a seamless and efficient manner,” said GSK Velu, chairman and managing director of Trivitron Healthcare and Neuberg Diagnostics. “Such an ecosystem can potentially make universal health care a reality for India.”

The National Health Authority, which supervises the running of Ayushman Bharat Pradhan Mantri Jan Arogya Yojna, the government’s health insurance scheme, is tasked with implementing the digital mission.

The registration of all government medical facilities and doctors started in November last year by the health ministry, a process that involves the digitisation of their information, including health records. The health facilities to be registered under mission include government clinics, laboratories, pharmacies and radiology centres.

A web portal (https://abdm.gov.in/) created for the purpose has separate sections for the registration of professionals and facilities under different categories that people can access.

In addition to registering facilities on the Health Facility Registry and the doctors in the Healthcare Professionals Registry, the central government has asked hospitals and facilities to digitize their health records and to procure and install a health and hospital Information management system.

Meanwhile, DRiefcase, which manages digital medical records, announced on Tuesday that it has become India’s first public health records app approved by the National Health Authority.

“This integration will now allow users to create their own Ayushman Bharat Health Account (or ABHA address), and ensure that the created medical records are issued to the correct individual or accessed by a health information user only after proper consent is granted,” the company said in a statement.

The Budget has allocated 86,200.65 crore for health care in 2022-23, which is about 16.59% more than the previous year’s estimates of 73,931.77 crore. The revised estimate for the sector in 2021-22 is 86,000.65 crore.

Budget estimates for the National Health Mission in 2022-23 stands at 37,000.23 crore, compared with 34,447.14 revised estimates for 2021-22. For the Pradhan Mantri Swasthya Suraksha Yojna, it is 10,000 crore compared with 74,00 crore during the previous year’s revised estimates.

The budget allocated 6,412 crore for the government’s flagship public health insurance scheme, the Ayushman Bharat Pradhan Mantri Jan Arogya Yojna, which is a significant increase from previous year’s revised estimate of 3,199 crore.

Experts, however, said they expected more.

“It seemed like a blank sheet; 16.5% is hardly an increase with inflation being almost more than 10%. Even the national health mission saw a meagre 7% increase that clearly shows no lessons have been learnt from the pandemic situation,” said Sujatha Rao, former Union health secretary. “How many glaring gaps came up in the health system (during the pandemic), those need to be plugged. When you are so concerned about the impact of Covid, then some decent mention of it should have been there.”

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  • ABOUT THE AUTHOR

    Rhythma Kaul works as an assistant editor at Hindustan Times. She covers health and related topics, including ministry of health and family welfare, government of India.

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