Bharat Health Stack will be the foundation of the platform that will help this alliance.
Some of India’s richest people and health-tech startups have created an alliance to try and transform India’s failing health-care system. The loose alliance, whose backers include Infosys Ltd. co-founders Nandan Nilekani and Kris Gopalakrishnan as well as prominent startups from Practo to Policybazaar, will be formally unveiled as soon as this week in an attempt to salvage a decrepit system by digitizing everything from patient data and records to creating online platforms for hospital care and doctor consultations. Called Swasth — meaning health in Hindi — its 100-plus members have pledged to build new services and coordinate efforts to improve emergency responses.
Faced with an exploding health crisis as coronavirus infections look likely to surpass a million, the country’s digital health-care backbone — the Bharat or National Health Stack — has come into focus and will buttress Swasth’s efforts. Much like the digital payments system that today underpins e-commerce, the Stack is designed to wrench into the 21st century an industry whose deplorable conditions have become increasingly apparent as the pandemic broadens across the world’s second-most populous nation.
In India, where hospitals and clinics are rife with corruption, only a fraction of its 1.3 billion people have access to insurance and private health-care costs keep millions in poverty. Many rural health centers don’t have electricity, running water or toilets, while public hospitals are often so filthy that coronavirus patients have fled the squalor. Many years in the making and sporting elements from a verified registry of doctors and portable personal health records (with patient consent), the Stack was conceived to improve access to affordable services and boost research.