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Here’s How Ayushman Bharat Is Enabling The Fight Against COVID
In an interview with BW Businessworld, Dr. Vipul Aggarwal, Deputy CEO, National Health Authority, talks about India’s first and the world’s largest healthcare scheme that covers about 40% of the country’s population and it’s role is fighting COVID 19.
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Ayushman Bharat PM-JAY has reached a major milestone of 1 crore treatments worth approx Rs 13,412 crore in less than 20 months since its launch on 23 September 2018. In an exclusive interview with BW Businessworld, Dr. Vipul Aggarwal, Deputy CEO, National Health Authority, talks about India’s first and the world’s largest healthcare scheme that covers about 40 per cent of the country’s population and it’s role is fighting COVID 19.
In this time of COVID crisis, how is Ayushman Bharat playing a different role from others?
In this time, every government office/body is working in tandem to battle this disease. To further intensify India’s fight against COVID 19, testing and treatment for the diseases is now freely available under the Ayushman Bharat PM-JAY. The hospitals empanelled under the scheme are aiding free testing and treatment via their authorized private labs and testing facilities to combat the increasing numbers. The tests are being carried out as per protocols set by the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR).
The aim is to expand the supply of testing and treatment facilities and increase access to them by securing private sector involvement.
Additionally, we have reached out to all PM-JAY beneficiaries categorized as high-risk (over the age of 60) to sensitize them about the disease, the precautions that they need to take and how they can seek care in case they spot symptoms.
What technology has been implemented to collect and analyse data to fight against COVID?
Ayushman Bharat is in fact among the very few schemes in the country that is completely data-driven. We have using data and analytics for all operations—policy design, fraud control, hospital empanelment, operational monitoring, COVID_19, etc.
Especially with regard to enabling the government in this crisis, NHA is supporting the Department of Health & Family Welfare GoI in managing the national toll free COVID helpline (#1075) to address the queries on COVID-19 as well as PMJAY helpline (#14555) is providing information on general questions with regard to the scheme. In just a few months, we are averaging 40,000 calls per day. All call center executives as per need basis are further immediately escalating cases to appropriate authorities as well.
The NHA team also monitors the ILI (influenza like illnesses) and SARI (severe acute respiratory illnesses) cases and the hospitals that they are being reported from on a daily basis.
What measures are being undertaken to increase participation from private sector?
Currently, to contain the spread of the COVID 19, testing and treatment is mostly being done in various government hospitals, which have been specifically converted to deal with the COVID crisis. Unfortunately, as this pandemic progresses, we will need these services to double up and private sector will need to participate as well. We are already in conversation with several providers from the private sector.
We have also started a new fast track hospital empanelment process ‘HEM lite’. According to this process, states can now get more private hospitals to participate with more relaxed terms and conditions on a 3-month temporary basis. Hospitals can empanel themselves via a user-friendly online system available on the scheme’s website www.pmjay.gov.in. These hospitals can either provide treatment to non-COVID-19 illnesses or convert themselves into COVID-19-only hospitals.
Could you please say a few words on the 1 crore treatment milestone?
It’s been a long, yet exciting year, we have gone through a lot of waves and troughs to reach this milestone. The State health Agencies and their teams have worked tirelessly to ensure effective implementation, enabling us to reach the 1Cr. mark in a span of just one and a half years! This project required us to identify beneficiaries, educate them and encourage them to get benefit under the scheme. We are grateful to every individual, who have enabled us to expand our reach, ensuring that we reach every vulnerable person in need. Today, we cover 40% of the population and over the next year hope to further increase the numbers.