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RSBY uses IT model to rapidly spread health insurance

The use of IT and smartcards to roll out India's RSBY program (see http://rfsearchlight.clearsignals.org/node/277) streamlines healthcare and vastly increases enrollment.

The health insurance program uses smart cards to ensure a paperless, cashless system for healthcare: patients show up, show the card, and are given care no questions asked. The system also lays the infrastructure for massive data collection and analysis. All enrolled hospitals are currently connected to a central district server, and RSBY is developing a robust monitoring and evaluation system.

Innovative uses of technology also accelerate adoption, as teams of technicians, health officers, and local leaders work to screen applicants. RSBY cards are issued within two hours of the first fingerprint. The issuing team has laptops, web cameras, fingerprint readers, smart-card printers — and a generator so work isn't affected by Khairla's 19-hour power cut.

Implications

IFTF explains that the World Bank acknowledges that though RSBY is not the first program to use smart cards, no one has done it at this scale or in this way. It appears to be one of the most widespread uses of IT to address social sector challenges, and if it continues to enroll the urban and rural poor and shows solid results, it could accelerate adoption of IT for other challenges. Effective use of the data collected could encourage smart card systems even more.

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Sources:

Halarnkar, Samar. ‘The master card’. The Hindustan Times. 4 July 2010:
http://www.hindustantimes.com/special-news-report/india-news/The-master-card/Article1-567469.aspx

Rashtriya Swasthya Bima Yojna: http://rsby.gov.in/
‘Details of Rashtriya Swasthya Bima Yojna’. india.gov.in: http://india.gov.in/citizen/health/viewscheme.php?schemeid=1436

‘Rashtriya Swasthya Bima Yojna’. District Rural Development Agency Kangra at Dharamshala: http://drdakangra.com/guidelines/RSBY.pdf

Swarup, Anil. ‘RSBY demonstrates the largest use of IT applications in rural areas’. E-Health Online. 1 September 2010: http://www.ehealthonline.org/interview/interview-details.asp?Title=%93RSBY-demonstrates-the-largest-use-of-IT-applications-in-rural-areas%94&interviewid=714