On Monday, Prime Minister Narendra Modi launched the Ayushman Bharat Digital Mission. This will unify health records of individuals, and tie it to unique digital IDs. Until now, the project was in its pilot phase in six states and Union Territories, where over one lakh IDs have been created.

The larger project includes a health ID for every individual which doubles up as their health account. Personal health records can be linked and viewed in a mobile application. Additionally, the project will also create a Healthcare Professionals Registry (HPR) and Healthcare Facilities Registries (HFR) that will act as a repository of all healthcare providers in both modern and traditional systems of medicine.

Crucially, not only is the DHM free of cost, it is also voluntary. Accounts made under it will keep a record of every test done, doctor visits, medications and diagnoses. A person’s medical history, then, becomes portable and easy to access for patients and doctors alike. The DHM is expected to work a lot like UPI, and possibly modify healthcare much like the revolution in payments.

The data repository too holds immense value for healthcare service providers in tailoring their services. The government also expects to use this data for better planning, budgeting of health programs. Better implementation will also optimise costs.

The DHM forms a cog in the larger machine that the Centre has been trying to design. Previously, we have seen similar initiatives to centralise data for in sectors such as agriculture, credit facilities, and other digital schemes. These schemes aim to increase of ease of access to various essential facilities, but also seek to make data handling more efficient.