Catalyzing healthcare accessibility through cashless payment gateways in India: a digital revolution

Elsevier, The Lancet Regional Health - Southeast Asia, Volume 23, April 2024
Pathak B.G., Mathew G., Chandru V., Kamath M.S.

The global payment gateway landscape has undergone a significant transformation, resonating across various sectors, including healthcare. Within India, digital payment transactions have consistently risen, with a notable leap from 3134 crore (FY 2018–19) to 7422 crore (FY 2021–2022).  The National Payments Corporation of India (NPCI) supported by Reserve Bank India and India Bank Association, has been instrumental in this trend by introducing secure digital payment gateways (UPI, BHIM, RuPay), facilitating various transactions from person-to-person to government-to-person for social schemes.  Gateways have streamlined transactions, eliminating bureaucratic intermediaries through direct customer-to-business interactions.  This transformation of payment dynamics is exemplified by events like demonetization, enhancing digital payment use, and validating this positive shift.

In India's ongoing pursuit of comprehensive universal healthcare, progress has been made in enhancing the quality of care at government health centers. Nevertheless the lack of full-fledged implementation of a universal healthcare program and the rapid growth of the private sector, healthcare has become prohibitively expensive for a significant number of citizens. The Ministry of Health's commitment to digital payment integration, along with initiatives like ‘Jan Dhan Aadhaar Mobile Yojana’, reinforces the significance of digital payments in ensuring equitable healthcare access.  Furthermore, the COVID-19 pandemic has emphasized the role of digital payments, aligning with the ‘new normal’ of social distancing and advocating contactless payment approaches.  These gateways enable caregivers of patients to prioritize family needs, close involvement in patient care, and pay bills remotely without visiting the hospitals.