Eleven-year-old Neena is one of nearly 1.5 million students in the Indian state of Uttarakhand. Recently, she became the proud owner of an Aadhaar card. Aadhaar means “foundation” or “support,” and is the brand name for the Unique Identification Number (UID) that the Indian government started issuing to all residents in September 2011. Each Aadhaar card is linked to the holder’s demographic and biometric information, and residents can use it to identify themselves anywhere in India to access a host of benefits and services such as education, employment, or opening a bank account. For Neena, the card means access to health services.
Seventy-two percent of India’s population of more than 1.2 billion people live in villages and hamlets – including Neena. To serve the medical needs of such a huge number of people, the government has set up a network of 23,887 primary health centres and 4,809 community health centres. Yet difficult geographical conditions, the small size and remote locations of many hamlets, and not enough doctors mean that many citizens are still under-served. It takes Neena and her mum about two hours to reach the next doctor. “We have to walk for an hour and then take a bus for another hour,” she explains. So there is a need for special programs to serve the vulnerable population in rural areas.
Indian government starts student health program
Child healthcare is a major challenge in India. The government has therefore created the Rashtriya Bal Swasthya Karyakram (National Children Health Program, NCHP), where teams of doctors and pharmacists visit all the schools to conduct preliminary health check-ups for the students. The students are issued health cards, and those who require further care are referred to primary and community health centres. Keeping track of data on multiple levels, from the individual student to state-level statistics, is an imperative for this project. This was no easy task, given the scale of the problem and the importance of data security and data fidelity.
Next page: Software helps doctors predict epidemics
A motivated team from SAP Labs India decided to develop software that could transform healthcare services in India. TracOHealth, as the software is called, identifies students via their unique Aadhaar ID and maintains a database of their health records. The solution allows remote medical teams to upload health records to a centralized system and document if a student has been referred to a health center. The health officers at centralized locations can monitor the health status of the students and send reminders to those who require further treatment. In addition, the analytics tools of the solution help medical staff detect early signs of epidemics and thus plan efficient containment strategies. The application also helps identify specific geographical areas in need of greater medical attention, and evaluate the NCHP program as a whole.
“I had read in newspaper articles that health indicators in parts of India were worse than sub-Saharan countries,” says Puneet Gupta, the project leader. “I thought the way to improve the situation is better planning and last mile reporting. At around this time, the Aadhaar card was introduced by the government. We understood that it can be used to provide essential services to the base of the population pyramid. We thus thought about creating a database of health records linked to the Aadhaar card. At SAP, using SAP HANA, we can process this huge database in a short time to provide analytics and reporting, which can be used by government authorities to plan and decide on effective execution strategies.”
Pilot phase: Aadhaar ID eliminates risk of duplicate records
Now in its pilot phase, TracOHealth is already handling the records of more than 48,000 students from 1,100 schools in three districts in Uttarakhand – students such as Neena. Because the children all have a unique Aadhaar ID, there is no risk of duplicate records, even if they move. During this pilot phase, one member of the development team is assigned to each health team to train the healthcare professionals on the use of the application and report and correct any bugs directly on-site.
Next page: Using real time analytics on health statusShri Piyush Singh, mission director of National Rural Health Mission (NRHM) in Uttarakhand and executive director of the government of Uttarakhand, is pleased with the pilot. “I think that soon this solution will give us real time analytics and reports on the health status of the 1.5 million students in the state,” he said.
Real-time analysis of student health in India
“Creating TracOHealth has been a fulfilling experience,” says Rakshetha J N, one of the developers. “When I read about Indian health services now, I get a feeling of quiet satisfaction because we have created a solution which can change the scenario in the coming years.”
And Neena? She still has a long way to her doctor, but with the regular health checks and the results being documented in the system, she and her mum now know that she is in good hands.
This article first appeared on SAP Milestones.