Improvements to India’s healthcare sector have been long in the offing, with several measures having been taken by the Modi Government such as Ayushman Bharat Yojana, Pradhan Mantri Suraksha Bima Yojana etc. In keeping with this broader push to maximize access to best healthcare to the Indian population, the conceptualization of a national technology stack to enable healthcare provision known as the National Health Stack is being performed. The National Health Stack is a revolutionary digital infrastructure that would ease the way for orderly deployment of various healthcare initiatives. The aim of the National Health Stack (NHS) is to rigorously facilitate the collection of comprehensive healthcare data. This will help the policymakers to experiment with policies, detect fraud in health insurance, measure outcomes and move towards smart policymaking through data analysis.
A key initiative planned and implemented by the National Health Stack is the creation of National Health Registries. At present, each government department, which is implementing different schemes tends to maintain their own copy of the data and it becomes a tedious process to update or restrict data sharing across programs. This eventually affects the efficacy of various health initiatives. National Health Registries will encompass data for various health-sector stakeholders’, for instance, healthcare providers such as hospitals, clinics, labs, etc., doctors, insurers, and ASHA workers as well as beneficiaries. Since the source for all information in the NHR would be publicly visible, this would usher in greater trust in the data and stronger accountability. Furthermore, its public access would be leveraged by companies and startups capitalizing on open APIs that would be be accessible to all, assisting them in providing essential services to the public.
Another key initiative that is a core part of the National Health Stack is the Coverage and Claims platform which is used to implement any large-scale health insurance program, enabling both public and private actors to implement insurance schemes in an automated, data-driven manner through open APIs. There will be three primary sub-components of this platform: a policy engine, a claims engine, and a fraud management service. The Policy Engine will allow beneficiaries to view all their health insurance policies in a convenient and user-friendly manner and these policies are to be developed based on Smart Contracts, a derivative of Blockchain Technology. The Claims Engine will manage the way claims flow in health insurance schemes and ensure ease of filing and settling claims and the fraud management component is responsible for ensuring that the fraudulent claims settled by coverage and claims platform is minimized. Unique identification through National Health Stack would be provided as a digital health ID to reduce medical errors, unnecessary costs, reduce inefficiency and increase the quality of care.
A final key initiative present in the National Health Stack is the National Health Analytics Framework which would enable the creation of aggregated datasets that will point to the overall position of the health infrastructure of the country/state/district. This will lead to data-driven decisions and targeted policymaking in the health sector. It shall be a part of this framework to increase transparency, accountability, civil society engagement, and innovations in service delivery and will aggregate information specific to disease surveillance, predicting epidemics, classifying and clustering population segments for proactive care, nutrition and health schemes. This would pave the way for a real-time approach leading to smart policy decisions.
The National Health Stack is a major leap forward in the history of public policy, governance and healthcare in India and the rest of the world. By setting a benchmark in terms of universal healthcare coverage, the Modi government would have established a world standard in terms of efficient healthcare delivery models and how to cater to the masses in an optimal manner. These would rapidly improve healthcare outcomes in India and improve the quality of Indian life.
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