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Unified Health Interface to follow decentralised protocol in offering teleconsultations and more

UHI is one of several building blocks in India’s digital health project, but its design has given stakeholders cause for concern.

An open protocol approach will be taken to build the Unified Health Interface (UHI), the National Health Authority (NHA) recently announced in a press release. The approach will involve a Decentralised Health Protocol (DHP) that will be "developed and improved by a community of contributors" in order to provide interoperability, it added. The NHA has also renamed Unique Health IDs (UHIDs) to Ayushman Bharat Health Accounts (ABHAs). The UHI is a layer of the Ayushman Bharat Digital Mission (ABDM) that allows teleconsultations and other services while making use of online registries like Health IDs, Health Professionals Registry, Healthcare Facility Registry, etc. These health services would essentially be provided through 'gateways' to which third-party health service providers can link their End User Applications. However, during consultations, various stakeholders had raised multiple issues with the UHI's proposed design. Why is the proposed UHI a cause for concern? Pricing could restrict business models, increase costs, and promote monopolies: The proposed pricing mechanism for teleconsultations consists of: Health Service Provider (HSP) charge for service + UHI Gateway charges (if any) + End-User Application (EUA) service charges. By allowing transactional pricing, the mechanism restricts the businesses model of applications like Practo and 1MG who help customers discover Health Service Providers online through subscriptions, said Practo and industry bodies (such as Confederation of Indian Industries (CII), National Association of Software and Service Companies (NASSCOM), and Internet and Mobile Association of India (IAMAI)). IT For Change, a Bengaluru-based think tank, submitted that it could make healthcare more expensive and promote monopolisation by large players…

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I cover health technology for MediaNama but, really, love all things tech policy. Always willing to chat with a reader! Reach me at anushka@medianama.com

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