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Use data from National Digital Health Mission to help healthcare providers, insurers get better picture of patients: Economic Survey

The Indian healthcare sector could take a leaf out of the banking and financial intermediation sector for ideas to address the problem of information asymmetry between patients, healthcare providers and insurers, proposes the Economic Survey 2020-21. It suggests the use of data from the National Digital Health Mission (NDHM) be used to help healthcare providers and insurance providers get a better picture of the patients. It also calls for the use of artificial intelligence and machine learning algorithms to process this data.  The Survey notes that due to the nature of the healthcare sector, patients don't often know what services they are availing. At the same time, patients themselves are known to indulge in behaviour that is dangerous to them, which increases the burden on the healthcare sector. Essentially, the Survey says that healthcare providers and insurers need to have a better picture of their patients. It also seems to argue that the government needs to play a key role in "shap[ing] the structure of the healthcare market" to address both information asymmetries. "Given the market failures stemming from significant asymmetric information, an unregulated private healthcare system is clearly sub-optimal compared to a system where policies mitigate the problem of asymmetric information. Parallels can be drawn from banking and financial intermediation – another industry that suffers from significant market failures due to asymmetric information – to design policies for mitigating these market failures." — Economic Survey 2020-21 (emphasis added) Problem: Patients 'indulge' in risky behaviour, healthcare providers don't know enough…

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