Panel discussion and report launch: Digital innovations in social health protection for India

The ILO project “Technical support to ESIS for improving and expanding access to health care services in India – A transition to formality” supported by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation (BMGF), is organizing a panel discussion to launch its report on “Digital innovations in Social Health Protection for India”.

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Social Health Protection
● Countries across the world have been advancing towards Universal Health Coverage over the last few decades. Institutions of Social Health Insurance (SHI) have led the way in realizing the Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 3 - “Ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all at all ages”.

ILO’s framework for Social Health Protection
● ILO focuses on social health protection as part of its larger goal of developing strong Social Protection Systems to increase resilience, contribute to preventing poverty, unemployment, and informality. The ILO lays special emphasis on the financial protection of vulnerable working populations when accessing health services and has been working with governments in combining health interventions with social protection measures, so they can respond effectively to crisis such as COVID-19. This is a core pillar of ILO’s response to the health and economic crises emerging from this pandemic. We believe that the extension of protection to those not yet covered, including in the ’missing middle’, should be at the centre of policy efforts in countries with a large informal economy.

Report on Digital innovations in Social Health Protection for India
● The ILO in India, through the ILO-ESIS project, has been providing technical support to the Employees’ State Insurance Corporation (ESIC) to strengthen its health services while increasing the coverage and financial protection of working people in India. While studying ESIC’s core social health protection role, the ILO has also developed a technical resource document, Digital Innovations in Social Health Protection for India. This document showcases successful best practices of deploying innovative digital technologies for improving core business processes of SHI. The document is aimed at providing latest information and lessons from countries across the world to support the ESIC’s ongoing digital initiatives. It is a repository of relevant knowledge that can support ESIC and other health systems’ ongoing digital transition.

Project Panchdeep of the Employees’ State Insurance Corporation (ESIC)
● The ESIS is among the largest social health protection schemes in the world, covering roughly a tenth of India’s population with health and social security benefits. To provide hassle-free health and social security services to stakeholders, the ESIC rolled out its e-Governance project “Panchdeep” through a national digital network, in all of its 2200+ field locations. “Panchdeep” programs were envisaged to provide online services to the employers, insured persons, ESI staff, third-party and government agencies, suppliers and other stakeholders. It provides registration of employers and beneficiaries, deposition of contribution, disbursement of cashless monetary benefits and documentation of medical services for all insured persons.

● The project has five components. ‘Pehchan’ includes all services related to identification, authentication, and verification of Insured Persons (IPs) and their family members. With the inclusion of the paper-based, downloadable e-‘Pehchan’, the physical tape-based cards were discontinued (Aadhaar is being planned to be implemented now); ‘Milap’ comprises of all services related to provisioning connectivity, networking, bandwidth and integration; ‘Pashaan’ consists of services related to hardware and middleware, power back-up for data centre, Disaster Recovery Centre, field units including end-user computing devices for 40,000+ users; ‘Dhanwantri’ includes all services related to health information documentation and retrieval pertaining to hospitals, dispensaries, OPDs, IPDs, laboratories, imaging services; and ‘Pragati’ for all services related to ERP, insurance, benefit, revenue, HRMS, material management, finance, accounts, investment, Provident Fund, pay rolls, budget. In addition, there are multiple mobile-based apps and a number of interdepartmental/ Governmental integrations.

● With more than a decade of implementing this programme, ESIC has valuable insights to offer when it comes to digital innovations in one of the largest social health protection institutions in the world.