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Digital transformation to make healthcare accessible, affordable for patients in India | R S Sharma Interview

Digital transformation is evident in the Indian healthcare system, and it is a building block of a patient-focused approach to healthcare, said R S Sharma, CEO, National Health Authority.

RS Sharma, healthcare, health
Under the government's Ayushman Bharat, schemes have been introduced to reduce catastrophic health expenditure by families by way of insurance or affordable healthcare

Digital transformation is evident in the Indian healthcare system, and it is a building block of a patient-focused approach to healthcare, said R S Sharma, CEO, National Health Authority. It is not only helping healthcare providers streamline operations, and understand what the patient requires, but is also building loyalty and trust, and is offering a better experience especially to Tier II to Tier III city or rural users, R S Sharma said in an interview with FinancialExpress.com. This transformation is aided by tech permeating all walks of life with over 1 bn mobile connections, 800 mn+ internet connections and 600 mn+ mobile phones in the country.

Under the Digital India initiative, connectivity infrastructure is being developed wherein a formal framework has been introduced in the healthcare system which is helping the use of digital technology in a systematic and transparent manner in order to make healthcare services more accessible and affordable for patients. It is also aiming to make the connectivity between consumers (patients) and supplies (hospitals, labs, pharmacy, drug makers) seamless. Now, records can be maintained for both patients and healthcare professionals. Digital technology is also providing an alternative to doctor visits which, in turn, may help patients from spending money on travelling by availing digital consultations etc.

Over the last decade, India has worked on several technologies including digital signature, digital ID, e-KYC, DigiLocker, e-Rupee etc. which can now be used in the healthcare sector to connect Healthcare Professionals Registry (HPR), Health Facility Registry (HFR), Drug registry, patient records and more. These technologies will help people from remote areas to have easier access to healthcare facilities, said Sharma. In order to ensure that people who do not have smartphones are also able to access the benefits of these tech transformations, the government is making these accessible through Common Service Centres in every Panchayat.

Under the government’s Ayushman Bharat, schemes have been introduced to reduce catastrophic health expenditure by families by way of insurance or affordable healthcare, Sharma said. He emphasised that the aim is to make solutions to healthcare services issues inclusive, multilingual, scalable, and interoperable so as to serve a population of over a billion people. The other major objective is to ensure that catastrophic health incidents in a poor family are not able to pull the family below poverty line.

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