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Ayushman Bharat Digital Mission (ABDM) Concerns


The Ayushman Bharat Digital Mission (ABDM), launched in September 2021 will not only simplify processes of hospitals but also increase ease of living according to the Prime Minister.


GS-II: Social Justice and Governance (Issues Related to Health, Government Policies and Initiatives, Welfare Schemes)

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. What is the Ayushman Bharat Digital Mission?
  2. Some of the Key Facilities of Ayushman Bharat Digital Mission
  3. Benefits of Ayushman Bharat Digital Mission
  4. Key points regarding Digital Health ID card
  5. Issues with the Digital Health ID
  6. Other Issues with ABDM

What is the Ayushman Bharat Digital Mission?

  • The Ayushman Bharat Digital Mission (ABDM) is a digital health ecosystem under which every Indian citizen will now have unique health IDs, digitised health records with identifiers for doctors and health facilities.
  • Ayushman Bharat Digital Mission will create a seamless online platform through the provision of a wide-range of data, information, and infrastructure services, duly leveraging open, interoperable, standards-based digital systems.
  • The Mission will ensure the security, confidentiality, and privacy of health-related personal information, and enable access and exchange of longitudinal health records of citizens with their consent.
  • The Mission is based on the foundations laid down in the form of Jan Dhan, Aadhaar and Mobile (JAM) trinity, and other digital initiatives of the government.
  • It aims to create interoperability within the digital health ecosystem, similar to the role played by the Unified Payments Interface in revolutionizing payments. Citizens will be a click away from accessing healthcare facilities.
  • The ABDM will come under the Ayushman Bharat Pradhan Mantri Jan Arogya Yojana.
  • The National Health Authority has been given the mandate to design, build, roll-out and implement the mission in the country.
  • Private stakeholders will have an equal opportunity to integrate and create their own products for the market. The core activities and verifications, however, remain with the government.
  • The pilot scheme is currently being implemented across 6 union territories namely Andaman & Nicobar Islands, Chandigarh, Dadra & Nagar Haveli, and Daman & Diu, Ladakh, Lakshadweep, and Puducherry.
  • It comprises six key building blocks — HealthID, DigiDoctor, Health Facility Registry, Personal Health Records, e-Pharmacy and Telemedicine.
  • The core building blocks of the mission is that the health ID, DigiDoctor and Health Facility Registry shall be owned, operated and maintained by the Government of India.

Some of the Key Facilities of Ayushman Bharat Digital Mission

  • Health ID: Every citizen will be allotted a health ID that will be used as their health account. The personal health records of the citizen will be linked to their respective Health ID. These records can be viewed with the help of a mobile application.
  • Healthcare Professionals Registry (HPR): A repository of registered nurses, doctors, paramedical with their qualifications, experience, and other relevant details.
  • Healthcare Facilities Registry (HFR): A repository of all public and private healthcare facilities across both traditional and modern systems of medicine. This will ensure ease of doing business for doctors, hospitals, and other healthcare service providers.
  • Personal Health Record Application: A self-managed health record of an individual linked to the Aarogya Setu App.

Benefits of Ayushman Bharat Digital Mission

  1. Empowering citizens with a modern healthcare system
  2. Easy access to health records of citizens and healthcare professionals
  3. Enabling the private healthcare sector to participate
  4. Making healthcare providers and doctors to be more accessible and accountable
  5. Providing efficient healthcare services for the benefit of people
  6. Help people with medical services in remote and urban areas
  7. Provide affordable health facilities at the grassroots level
  8. Giving highest importance to the privacy of the personal data of the citizens

Key points regarding Digital Health ID card

  • Under National Digital Health Mission, every Indian will get a Health ID card that will work as a unique health account.
  • The health ID will be completely technology-based and will include a unique 14-digit health identification number- for every citizen.
  • The digital health ID card will work as a repository of all health-related information of the person such as the person’s past medical conditions, treatment and diagnosis.
  • The digital Health ID will have details of every disease, every test and all doctor visits along with results of all diagnostic tests and prescribed medicines. Each time, a person will visit the doctor or a pharmacy, the details including prescriptions will be logged in the health ID card.
  • The unique digital health IDs will enable Indian citizens to get hassle-free access to healthcare across the country.
  • The digital health card will create interoperability within the digital health ecosystem. It will also create a seamless online platform that will also be secure and will protect the confidentiality and privacy of health-related personal information.
  • The health ID will be voluntary and it will be free of cost. It is a hassle-free initiative as citizens will only be a click away from accessing healthcare facilities using it.
  • The digital health id card will make all the health-related information portable and easily accessible even if the patient shifts to a new place or visits a new doctor. All person health records can be viewed with the help of a mobile app.
  • The health ID can be used to access the health records of the citizens only with their consent. It cannot be accessed without their permission so it would be a reliable repository.

Issues with the Digital Health ID

  • The absence of a privacy law and little public awareness and control over their data is one of the grave concerns plaguing the idea of Digital Health ID and ABDM. With the health ID storing personal data, concerns are being raised that it could be open to misuse.
  • There is the danger that any large private insurance company could use sophisticated algorithms across the health and other databases to construct risk profiles for people and make access to affordable insurance difficult.
  • Data mining can prioritise certain rich demographics for their services and direct public and private resources to people who can afford a high premium for their services rather than to the poor who need them.
  • Despite provisions such as making citizen’s consent mandatory for sharing their information, such provisions can be easily manipulated by interested entities.

Other Issues with ABDM

  • India faces structural issues like the acute shortage of healthcare professionals and healthcare facilities. The digital health mission will be rendered ineffective without such bare minimum resources.
  • The fact that India has a huge population of which a large portion is rural population means that the cost of researching, finding and buying appropriate drugs and treatment, competing systems of medicine is challenging.
  • The lack of access to technology, poverty and lack of understanding may hamper the mission.
  • India’s previous experience with respect to similar attempts like the One Nation One Ration card, PM-JAY card, Aadhaar card, etc., had brought to light many issues such as errors. The DHM is also likely to face similar issues.

-Source: The Hindu

December 2023