Union Budget 2022-23 has given healthcare a much-needed digital push. Rolling out an open platform for the National Digital Health Ecosystem, setting up of National TeleHealth Mental Scheme, incentivising start-ups, which would include health, and ‘Drone Shakti’ are innovative ideas and in the right direction. The National Digital Health Ecosystem in the age of digitation and rollout of 5G technology would make healthcare accessible to the needs of over 1.4 billion population in India, many of whom were scared due to the pandemic. The digital registries of health providers and health facilities, unique health identity and universal access to health facilities provided under the National Digital Health Ecosystem will provide access to healthcare digitally in the remotest of areas where even the Primary Health Centres (PHCs) are unavailable, said Dr Satyender Goel, Founder & CEO, India Health Link (IHL)
He said, “To further push the digital mission, it is vital for the government to partner with the private sector and use the technological innovations coming from creative start-ups in the field. A point noteworthy is the ‘Drone Shakti’ – a plan to encourage drone technology. This could be used in multiple ways in the healthcare segment too. The proposed National Tele Health Scheme involving Bengaluru-based NIMHANS shows the importance given by the government to a large segment of population that was stressed out following the pandemic and is part of what the Finance Minister said about “empathy for the pandemic-hit population”.
The National Digital Health Ecosystem may help accelerate the regular screening for NCDs across urban and rural PHCs being piloted through National Health Mission & National Urban Health Mission to catch up on the lost time during the Covid pandemic emergency. Incorporating the NCDs clinics in line with Public-Private Partnership (PPP) with wellness centres or at PHCs may be promising.
Mr. Shanay Shah, President, Shalby Hospitals said, “With the pandemic still seizing hold on the world, the healthcare sector has taken the centre stage during this year’s budget. The Budget announcement reflects the intention of the government to introduce and strengthen digitization in India. The Union Budget has done a phenomenal job introducing a National Tele Mental Health program. This astounding step taken will not only help in creating the long due mental health awareness in our country but will also promote a healthier mental life in India. Provisioning in the budget for a better healthcare system especially in the rural areas would have been highly beneficial. The introduction of an open platform for the National Digital Health ecosystem that consists of digital registries, unique health identities and universal access to health facilities will ensure easy access and transparency across the health sector. This digitization will be highly revolutionary in the coming years as the world continues to constantly advance.”
While Mrs. Neerja Birla, Founder and Chairperson, Mpower expressed, “The Government has recognised the mental health crisis, exacerbated by the ongoing pandemic, in the Union Budget. The setting up of a national tele mental health programme is a welcome move, and will go a long way in helping people of all ages to access quality mental health. Today, having a platform where people can voice their concerns freely, and safely is the first step towards mental wellness, and I am confident that with this, India will be able to bring about a much needed change in society.”
“Union Budget 2022 is extremely progressive and forward looking in nature. Especially for startups, the tax exemption to eligible startups, incorporated before 31st Mar, 2023 is going to provide much needed cashflow boost to startups in their formative years.
Setting up of an Open platform under the National Digital Health Ecosystem is a welcome move and much needed with an aim to accelerate digital health push. The fintech sector has a decisive role to play in furthering accessibility and affordability of healthcare products and services. Overall, budgetary provisions look progressive,” said Jitin Bhasin, Founder, SaveIN
“We are happy with the announcement of the Digital Health Eco System which will go a long way in providing a national registry of the healthcare infrastructure of the country. This will improve transparency and information flow of key healthcare parameters across the country. Given the challenges in mental health thrown up by the pandemic, the National Tele Mental Health Programme is another welcome step. India has managed the pandemic phenomenally. The size of the country and the demographic distribution are unique challenges that have been managed through one of the largest vaccination programmes in the world. Also the effective use of technology through the Cowin and Arogya Setu App have helped in identifying, tracing and managing Covid cases,” said Dr Ramesh Kancharla, Chairman and Managing Director, Rainbow Children’s Hospital.
Richa Mahindru, Domain Leader, Pharma and Life Sciences, Praxis Global Alliance said, “The Union Budget 2022 is predictably aligned for the Pharma and Healthcare sector in continuation to the previously announced production linked incentives and policies under Aatam Nirbhar Bharat Abhiyaan scheme. The budget will provide improved access for mental health counseling and healthcare facilities with the launch of the National Tele Mental Health program. With a stepped-up expenditure allocation of 137 percent in the Healthcare industry and PLIs in place for domestic manufacturing of APIs, KSMs, and drug intermediates, the budget is poised to support the innovation of new drugs and provide affordable access to healthcare facilities.”