Aadhaar, the country’s unique identity system, has an ability to change a lot about India’s delivery of public services in a very short period of time.
- Aadhar has almost a billion members already
- Aadhaar now serves not just as a address and identity proof but also as the financial address for its residents.
- Armed with this system, India has been able to revolutionize its financial systems, rethink the nature of its welfare state, cutting back on benefits in-kind and market-distorting subsidies, and turning to direct cash transfers paid into the Jan Dhan accounts of the neediest.
- In his book Rebooting India, Nandan Nilekani has provided a first cut on how Aadhaar can be used to overhaul the healthcare sector.
- Targeting Recipients of Health Programs
- For example: Health Protection Program (earlier Rashtriya Swasthya Bima Yojana) can be easily linked with Aadhar for easy cash-free health services at hospitals.
- Early Identification of Diseases: He has discussed data for public health surveillance in quickly identifying patterns of emergent epidemics, and understanding our rapidly changing burden of chronic diseases compared to patterns in Western Europe.
- Interoperability: Perhaps the biggest win that Aadhaar can bring about is that it can accelerate the process of “interoperability” in healthcare. Interoperability is the seamless exchange of data across the patient care continuum, not just between the internal systems of the provider network, but also an outside laboratory and pharmacy, and their connection with the insurance company’s claims department. When systems are interoperable, patients and their families and doctors can access patient information. This translates into no longer having to lug stacks of charts, lab and x-ray results, and other documentation from doctor to doctor.
- Saving Funds: At a system level, it can save precious funds. In the US, interoperability has the potential to lower health costs by $30 billion annually. Currently, there is $36 billion in addressable waste within the US healthcare system of which 97% is attributed to lack of interoperability.
- Tracking Doctor Absenteeism: New ideas and initiatives are taking hold as leaders discover its possible applications. One simple example is an initiative in Krishna district in Andhra Pradesh, where doctors and nurses are tracked for absenteeism using biometric markers. This has improved attendance and access by patients.