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Ayushman Bharat faces 7 challenges, Modi govt looks at homegrown startups for help

The Modi govt will announce launch of Start-Up Grand Challenge on October 1, when the flagship health insurance scheme PM-JAY completes a year.

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New Delhi: The Narendra Modi government will soon join hands with homegrown startups for effective implementation of its flagship health insurance scheme Ayushman Bharat, or the Pradhan Mantri Jan Arogya Yojana (AB-PMJAY).

A ‘Start-Up Grand Challenge’ will be launched Tuesday (1 October) on the occasion of ‘Ayushman Bharat-Arogya Manthan’ — the official celebration to mark one year of PMJAY — at the Vigyan Bhawan. PM Modi is likely to announce the competition, ThePrint has learnt.

Startups will be invited to display cutting-edge technology to support functioning of the National Health Authority (NHA), which is the executive agency of PMJAY. The startups will be asked to offer solution for seven identified problems that the scheme is currently facing such as securing patients’ database, building health workforce capacity and reducing cost of operations.

“It is a unique, first-of-its-kind opportunity for startups to be a participant and stakeholder in supporting the implementation of AB-PMJAY, the largest government-funded health assurance scheme in the world,” Dr Indu Bhushan, CEO of Ayushman Bharat told ThePrint.

Bhushan also said the challenge will be open for firms already working in fields such as manufacture of medical devices, health communications, hospital services and management, digital health, medical workforce training and capacity building.

The government also believes that mainstreaming startups will boost private investment in the country’s health sector.

Also read: No decision on cataract surgery as Ayushman Bharat adds 237 medical packages, drops 554

The seven challenges

DataLabs, a research firm, had earlier estimated that there are more than 4,800 active healthtech startups in India. “From doctor consultation to lab diagnosis, and from preventive healthcare to tech-equipped medical devices to healthcare services, healthtech startups have touch-based several critical segments such as diabetes, heart attack, and even cancer,” it notes.

The first challenge for startups in the challenge would be to find ways of reducing the cost of diagnosis and diagnostics. Another challenge would be to have a ‘technological solution’ to measure and track quality of healthcare. The challenge of maximising beneficiary awareness will also be given to startups.

The other challenges include: ways of enhancing quality and security of data, reducing infection rates at hospitals, building and maximising capacities of health workforce, developing robust and real-time fraud detection systems.

Also read: Popular cartoon characters Motu, Patlu will now promote Modi govt’s Ayushman Bharat

Award for winners

The government plans to announce cash prizes for winners, apart from providing them opportunities for post-marketing testing and validation studies of their innovations.

The NHA also states that the winners will be offered “connections to top institutions in healthcare and allied sectors for technology refinement for deployment”.

The winners will be awarded potential partnerships with the state governments implementing AB-PMJAY — currently available in 28 states except Delhi, Telangana, Odisha and West Bengal.

Also read: Modi govt plans biometrics to fight ‘ghost patients’ of Ayushman Bharat


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