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Considered as the “digital backbone of India’s health system”, National Digital Health Mission (NDHM) is a revolutionary step reinforcing the regulators’ commitment towards healthy India. In an attempt to create a centralized and focused ecosystem, NDHM received a good acceptance with over 1lakh health IDs already created by the National Health Authority (NHA). The mission is surely a step towards not just digital India, but an integrated healthcare system for the benefit of every Indian.

There has been a complete shift in the mindset of every single individual when one talks about health. It has provided certain possibilities that never existed before and NDHM is surely one of such possibilities. While this is surely a thoughtful mission, most often than not, the challenge is always in the execution, where we will have to be very attentive. Poor, halfhearted execution, of the kind we have seen in Aarogya Setu, can make this initiative a nonstarter. Three action points I believe should be considered as part of the NDHM framework to make sure we harness the benefits not just in spirit but in the real-world too:

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Link it – Connect the Health ID with all the subsidy schemes and insurance benefits available under “Ayushman Bharat”. The time has come to link and integrate the public healthcare system. Expand the scope of the mission beyond the data cloud to make sure every effort made towards improving lives through health and wellness is linked to this Health ID. This will also assure that the benefits reach the masses and the deprived population particularly the below poverty line families.
Linking the 1.3billon population may sound a mammoth task, but India surely has both the talent and infrastructure to design the systems indigenously. We will have to make sure we incorporate both the best practices and the lessons learned from the success and failures of such healthcare frameworks adopted in developed nations. This is a challenge as well as an opportunity for the young talent in India. Aadhaar card is a shining example.

Expand it – Centralised repository will be an excellent base to carry out further research for every stream of the healthcare industry, be it pharmaceuticals, nutraceuticals, Ayurveda, Homeopathy, or any other medical streams. There is a huge scope to conduct both primary as well as secondary research basis the data that will be available on this platform.

The question might be how to expand this scope? Here, I would appeal to the toolmakers to design the platform in such a way that without compromising on any data privacy, relevant information can be extracted exclusively for further research. Also, we can build an option within the tool where the ID owner can solicit his/ her willingness to participate in such research which will further strengthen our healthcare system.

Execute it– Targeted to bring in more efficiency, effectiveness, and transparency of health service delivery, the success will be ultimately measured by the execution of the mission. While the mission will be regulated by the government body, the operations and management will be kept separate. The mission steering committee must consider the PPP model to execute this game-changing initiative. The PPP model excels in bringing in trust, governance, and speed in execution. The infrastructure sector, especially the roads and airports have seen remarkable successes of the PPP model in India. This model has always provided distinct benefits over the traditional models. The framework by nature will encourage innovation-led implementation along with the speed that it requires.

NDHM is all about integration and the healthcare system will have to collaborate to share the resources, responsibilities, and risks. Inviting private participation will take care of both, the efficiency and effectiveness part of the mission.

As the leaders say, an opportunity lies within the challenge. To make an ecosystem that is inclusive, all the stakeholders will have to come together and convert the impediments into the prospects. For an industrialist, PPP will be the scope, for a leader, scientists and young generation, research and innovation for product development will be the key; and for every Indian citizen, it will be a contribution through HealthID registration. If we are able to get these roleplays right, we will achieve what we are set out for.

By Sanjaya Mariwala, Executive Chairman and Managing Director at OmniActive Health Technologies.

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