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96% of nearly 14 Crore Unique Health IDs linked with Aadhaar, reveals ABDM Mission Director

Integration of the controversial Aarogya Setu app and other new details emerge on India’s push to digitise health data.

“We already have 140 million, almost 14 crore, health ID generated in India right now. 96% of them are linked with Aadhaar, remaining are linked with mobile number and we are giving an alternative option now for the last few weeks to link it with driving license,” Praveen Gedam, Mission Director of the Ayushman Bharat Digital Mission (ABDM) said during a webinar organised to simplify the digital health mission for doctors on November 18.

Gedam revealed new details about the ABDM to be rolled out nation wide such as the authentication of Unique Health IDs (UHIDs), the techno-legal challenges it faces therein, upcoming consultation papers, future plans for Aarogya Setu, and so on.

The Indian government’s digital health mission proposes a multi-tiered digital health architecture which, using registries like the UHID, will generate longitudinal electronic health records, facilitate tele-consultations, and so on. However, the mission has also led to several privacy concerns, running into controversy for reported instances of individuals being coerced into signing up for the project.

What Gedam revealed during the webinar

Unique Health ID authentications: “Going forward, linkages with PAN, Passport (for Unique Health IDs) so that Aadhaar is not made mandatory because it cannot be made mandatory by way of legal procedures,” Gedam said. Currently, through OTP-based authentication, individuals can potentially have multiple health IDs, on different numbers, in addition to the one linked to their Aadhaar. Once linking is enabled, Indians with mobile-based UHIDs will get a message asking them to link it with a government-issued ID, Gedam revealed.

Plans for Aarogya Setu app: Gedam said that Aarogya Setu “will provide a one stop storage for health record for a person from across health facilities”. This would mean that Aarogya Setu could be used to pull up an individual’s health records, linked to their Health ID. Last year, Arnab Kumar from the NITI Aayog, who spearheaded the creation of the app, said that the app could be the ‘initial building block for India Health Stack’. Back then, he had said that there were plans to introduce features like ‘telemedicine video consultations’ and ‘personalised data collection’ on the app.

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In the future, facial authentication for ABDM? “..log-in using email, log-in using Aadhaar, log-in using face, log-in using mobile number – All these options are being developed already by various product developers,” Gedam said, responding to a question by a doctor on whether they would need different healthcare facility, patient, and doctor IDs on the ABDM.

The ABDM has planned integrations with multiple private players who, through Application Program Interfaces (APIs), will build consumer-facing and other services atop the ABDM’s databases and basic structure. During the webinar, Gedam revealed that currently 600 of such integrations were underway.

Incoming consultation paper: Gedam said that a drug registry will be proposed by the NHA via a consultation paper that’ll be released next month on the NHA’s website. The drug registry had been briefly mentioned in the NDHM’s blueprint and strategy paper as key components of the master data that the mission seeks to collect.

“The data layer of NDHM [now ABDM] will help create the master data across various aspects of healthcare including identification of patients, doctors, health facilities, drugs, etc.” – NDHM blueprint

Progress on the ABDM so far

In October, the ABDM was rolled out nation-wide, transitioning from its pilot stage in 6 Union Territories. While some parts of the ABDM are already operational, like its health ID, the healthcare professionals and facility registries are still in the consultative or pre-consultative stages. So far, the NHA has released consultation papers on the Unified Health Interface, Health Professionals Registry, Health Facility Registry, NDHM draft implementation strategy, NDHM blueprint, data policy, sandbox framework guidelines, and more

In August, during a consultation meeting, the NHA had said that more consultation papers on the ABDM’s Health Information Sharing and Exchange (methodology behind health data sharing under the ABDM) and a ‘Policy on Use’ (to govern how health data is shared (or not) with private, public, and non-governmental bodies) will be released soon.

Apart from the Centre, the NDHM has also given impetus to state-level health digitisation projects. Delhi, Tamil Nadu, and Bihar are the three states that have launched such projects.

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Written By

I cover health technology for MediaNama, among other things. Reach me at anushka@medianama.com

MediaNama’s mission is to help build a digital ecosystem which is open, fair, global and competitive.

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