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India’s NHA to advance digital healthcare via ABHA card tokenization

India’s NHA to advance digital healthcare via ABHA card tokenization

The National Health Authority’s (NHA) plan to digitize healthcare services in India has gone further along with the recent announcement of over 30 million tokenized cards for Out-Patient Department (OPD) registrations through the ABHA-based scan and share service.

Launched under the Ayushman Bharat Digital Mission (ABDM) in October 2022, the “Scan and Share” paperless service aims to eliminate the need to wait in long queues for OPD appointments.

The Ayushman Bharat Health Accounts-based (ABHA) scan and share service enables patients to register for OPD appointments by scanning a QR code displayed at the OPD registration counter, sharing their ABHA profile for registration. With an average of 130,000 individuals using the Scan and Share service daily, the service is currently operational across more than 5435 healthcare facilities in 546 districts across 35 states and union territories of India, according to a Ministry of Health and Family Welfare document.

Discussing the significance of digital healthcare services, the CEO of the National Health Authority (NHA), states: “The Scan and Share service is an innovative facility under the Ayushman Bharat Digital Mission (ABDM) aimed at transforming healthcare accessibility and efficiency. This digital service eliminates the need for manual paperwork and significantly reduces waiting time, making hospital visits more streamlined and efficient.”

The Ayushman Bharat Health Accounts (ABHA) is a component of the Ayushman Bharat Pradhan Mantri Jan Arogya Yojana (AB-PMJAY), India’s flagship national health protection scheme. ABHA is designed to facilitate cashless transactions and manage financial aspects related to healthcare services under the Ayushman Bharat scheme. Since April 1, it has become mandatory for Indians to link their Central Government Health Services (CGHS) beneficiary ID, also known as a unique health identification number (UHID), with their ABHA ID.

CGHS had issued 140 million UHIDs, 96 percent of them linked to the national biometric ID system, Aadhaar, as of November, 2021.

Individuals register for an ABHA ID through the official ABDM website or mobile app. The process is also facilitated at various healthcare institutions and Common Service Centers (CSCs), and documents required for enrollment include a valid government-issued ID such as an Aadhaar card or a driving license for identity verification.

Once verified, an ABHA ID is generated to which the ID can be used to access and share health records digitally across different healthcare providers. After obtaining the ABHA ID, individuals can link it with various health services and insurance schemes, enabling cashless transactions and streamlined access to healthcare.

At the start of the year, it was reported that 500 million people have enrolled in the ABHA system. The scan and share service sees an average daily usage by 130,000 individuals, with states like Uttar Pradesh, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, and Jammu & Kashmir leading in the adoption of ABHA.

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