Health Sector – UHC, National Health Policy, Family Planning, Health Insurance, etc.

Explained: Digital Health ID


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Various facts related to digital health ID

Mains level: Features of the ABDM

The PM has recently launched the flagship Ayushman Bharat Digital Mission (ABDM) which involves the creation not just a unique digital health ID for every citizen.

Ayushman Bharat Digital Mission

What is the unique health ID?

  • If a person wants to be part of the ABDM, she must create a health ID, which is a randomly generated 14-digit number.
  • The ID will be broadly used for three purposes: unique identification, authentication, and threading of the beneficiary’s health records, only with their informed consent, across multiple systems and stakeholders.

Why is this initiative significant?

  • The initiative has the potential to “increase the ease of living” along with “simplifying the procedures in hospitals”.
  • At present, the use of digital health ID in hospitals is currently limited to only one hospital or to a single group, and mostly concentrated in large private chains.
  • The new initiative will bring the entire ecosystem on a single platform.
  • The system also makes it easier to find doctors and specialists nearest to you.
  • Currently, many patients rely on recommendations from family and friends for medical consultation, but now the new platform will tell the patient who to reach out to, and who is the nearest.
  • Also, labs and drug stores will be easily identified for better tests using the new platform.

How can one get it?

  • One can get a health ID by self-registration on the portal or by downloading the ABMD Health Records app on one’s mobile.
  • Additionally, one can also request the creation of a health ID at a participating health facility.
  • Health facilities may include government or private hospitals, community health centres, and wellness centres of the government across India.
  • The beneficiary will also have to set up a Personal Health Records (PHR) address for consent management, and for future sharing of health records.

What is a PHR address?

  • It is a simple self-declared username, which the beneficiary is required to sign into a Health Information Exchange and Consent Manager (HIE-CM).
  • Each health ID will require linkage to a consent manager to enable sharing of health records data.
  • An HIE-CM is an application that enables sharing and linking of personal health records for a user.
  • At present, one can use the health ID to sign up on the HIE-CM; the National Health Authority (NHA), however, says multiple consent managers are likely to be available for patients to choose from in the near future.

What does one need to register for a health ID?

  • Currently, ABDM supports health ID creation via mobile or Aadhaar.
  • The official website states that ABDM will soon roll out features that will support health ID creation with a PAN card or a driving licence.
  • For health ID creation through mobile or Aadhaar, the beneficiary will be asked to share details on name, year of birth, gender, address, mobile number/Aadhaar.

Is Aadhaar mandatory?

Ans. No, it is voluntary.

  • One can use one’s mobile number for registration, without Aadhaar.
  • If the beneficiary chooses the option of using her Aadhaar number, an OTP will be sent to the mobile number linked to the Aadhaar.
  • However, if she has not linked it to her mobile, the beneficiary has to visit the nearest facility and opt for biometric authentication using Aadhaar number.
  • After successful authentication, she will get her health ID at the participating facility.

Are personal health records secure?

  • The NHA says ABDM does not store any of the beneficiary health records.
  • The records are stored with healthcare information providers as per their “retention policies”.
  • They are “shared” over the ABDM network “with encryption mechanisms” only after the beneficiary express consent.

Can one delete my health ID and exit the platform?

Ans. Yes, the NHA says ABDM, supports such a feature.  Two options are available: a user can permanently delete or temporarily deactivate her health ID.

  • On deletion, the unique health ID will be permanently deleted, along with all demographic details.
  • The beneficiary will not be able to retrieve any information tagged to that health ID in the future, and will never be able to access ABDM applications or any health records over the ABDM network with the deleted ID.
  • On deactivation, the beneficiary will lose access to all ABDM applications only for the period of deactivation.
  • Until she reactivates her health ID, she will not be able to share the ID at any health facility or share health records over the ABDM network.

What facilities are available to beneficiaries?

  • Users can access personal digital health records right from admission through treatment and discharge.
  • One can access and link his/her personal health records with your health ID to create a longitudinal health history.

What other features will be rolled out?

  • Upcoming new features will enable access to verified doctors across the country.
  • The beneficiary can create a health ID for her child, and digital health records right from birth.
  • Third, she can add a nominee to access her health ID and view or help manage the personal health records.
  • Also, there will be much inclusive access, with the health ID available to people who don’t have phones, using assisted methods.

How do private players get associated with a government digital ID?

  • The NHA has launched the NDHM Sandbox: a digital architecture that allows helps private players to be part of the National Digital Health Ecosystem as health information providers or health information users.
  • The private player sends a request to NHA to test its system with the Sandbox environment.
  • The NHA then gives the private player a key to access the Sandbox environment and the health ID application programming interface (API).
  • The private player then has to create a Sandbox health ID, integrate its software with the API; and register the software to test link records and process health data consent requests.
  • Once the system is tested, the system will ask for a demo to the NHA to move forward. After a successful demo, the NHA certifies and empanels the private hospital.

Now try this PYQ:

Consider the following statements:

  1. Aadhaar metadata cannot be stored for more than three months.
  2. State cannot enter into any contract with private corporations for sharing of Aadhaar data.
  3. Aadhaar is mandatory for obtaining insurance products.
  4. Aadhaar is mandatory for getting benefits funded out of the Consolidated Fund of India.

Which of the statements given above is/are correct?

(a) 1 and 4 only

(b) 2 and 4 only

(c) 3 only

(d) 1, 2 and 3 only


Post your answers here.
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