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Need comprehensive action plan to drive wider adoption of digital health: Nathealth-ADL report

Our Bureau, New Delhi
Thursday, March 23, 2023, 16:30 Hrs  [IST]

A comprehensive and concrete action plan based on various imperatives is required to drive the digital health adoption including emphasising the data security and privacy safeguards through regulatory interventions and encouraging or incentivising the use of Ayushman Bharat Digital Mission (ABDM) compliant software for all hospitals and diagnostic centres, according to a latest report by NATHealth, the largest organisation of private healthcare players in the country, and Arthur D Little (ADL).
In a latest study - Pathways to Scale Adoption of Digital Health in India - released during the Annual Summit 2023 of NATHealth this week, the researchers said that the push for deeper adoption by private players will require collective effort on part of the government, payors, and the full private providers.
A ‘Digital Health Adoption Index, developed for the report, says that while large private hospitals and diagnostic laboratory chains rank as the most digitally forward segments, scoring around 7 or 8 out of 10, other private providers have a Digital Health Adoption score of 5 or less (0 = no digital adoption and 10 = full digitalization).
In an ADL survey of over 30 private healthcare providers, 93% of the respondents agreed that digitalization is beneficial for the healthcare ecosystem and 80% recorded using digital tools for the most common use case, i.e., to register customer data (demographic and clinical). However, only 7% of the providers have adopted digitalization across all operational use cases. Thus, even though preliminary acknowledgement of the benefits offered by digitalization is high, digital adoption remains nascent in private providers.
The report proposed 10 imperatives to drive digital health adoption and ABDM integration for the Indian provider industry.
It suggested demonstrating data security and privacy safeguards for customer health records, for larger provider segments, through technology demonstrations and regulatory interventions such as the Data Privacy Bill. Another imperative is to engage with providers holistically to emphasize the benefits of digitalization and ABDM adoption (including strong business rationale for adoption) and provide clarity on the roadmap for ABDM.
It also suggested creation of initial champions and partners (ABDM evangelists) from among leading private healthcare providers, including digital-forward players from the healthtech and out-of-home healthcare spaces. It also recommended increasing the ambit of ABDM by creating clear certification requirements and roll-out timelines for healthtech, senior care, and home healthcare players.
There is a need to encourage/incentivize the use of ABDM-compliant software for all hospitals and diagnostic centers (including by linking them to NABH and NABL certification). This should be augmented by incentivizing more Digital Solution Companies (DSCs) to integrate into the ABDM ecosystem.
Another imperative is to increase insurance penetration and move towards payor-side consolidation through a single-window Health Claims Exchange (HCX) platform and introduction of insurance for the missing middle. The report also suggested to scale the ABDM tools/software provider ecosystem by simplifying and demystifying compliance processes, by mandating DSCs to offer ABDM-compliant software to providers.
There is also a need to scale ABDM citizen adoption by driving universal creation of ABHA ID and citizen awareness programs to ensure strong consumer pull for ABDM solutions. There is a need for institute training programs and a content ecosystem for self-training of non-physician staff, especially nurses who stand to gain most from the digitalization and integration with ABDM.
Another imperative for the adoption of ABDM could be to reward digitalization and ABDM adoption through better reimbursements (higher rates and faster payments) for PMJAY, ESI, other social health insurance (CGHS, ECHS etc.) and PSU panel. Also design other ABDM usage-linked incentives including scaling up DHIS.
“A comprehensive and concrete action plan based on these 10 imperatives will help increase digitalization among healthcare providers in the country and boost India to become a leading powerhouse for digital health in the world,” said the report.


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