ESIC makes health care easy <em>(updated) </em>

by Priyanka Bhattacharya    Aug 18, 2011

Prasenjit LahiriA large e-governance project was implemented to enable Employees’ State Insurance Corporation (ESIC) to offer a social security scheme to 150 million workers.

In orderto allow around 150 million workers and labourers insured with it to access easy healthcare, the ESIC under the Ministry of Labour and Employment has worked with Wipro Infotech to connect its 2,200 sites under its Panchdeep project.

It was in 2009 that ESIC signed up with Wipro for this Rs 1,182 crore e-governance project – one of the largest till date. “It is a turnkey project spread over a period of about one and a half plus five years. It involved multiple tracks of solutions to connect the database, employers, workers, and healthcare providers under various ESIC schemes. We have to provide both IT infrastructure plus develop applications for them,” says Prasenjit Lahiri, General Manager - ESIC Account, Wipro Infotech.

Under this Panchdeep project, ESIC, both a state regulator and a provider of health insurance to workers, needed a technology solution that would unify all of its 2,220 sites spread over different parts of India. This project allows ESIC to bring health care services to low-wage workers and labour-class employees of various enterprises in both the industry and services sector. It meant connecting ESIC’s Delhi headquarters to operations in 27 states, 50 regional and sub-regional offices and 620 branch offices along with 150 hospitals, 1,400 dispensaries and 150 million workers and their family members.

Talking about the challenge of this project Dr. C S Kedar, DG, ESIC says, “When the numbers go beyond a certain critical mass, any business process re-engineering or just opening new offices and hiring fresh manpower will not solve the problem. With ‘insured persons’ (IPs) in the crores and their employers in lakhs, one must go for automation.”

ESIC required developing of multiple software streams including ERP and a hospital information system. “ESIC also wanted us to connect the databases on all the people covered under this so that they can be issued cards which would enable them to get healthcare services anytime and anywhere under various ESIC schemes,” says Lahiri. According to him the main aim of the project was to enable ESIC to distribute 20 million identity cards, and build a system that would be used for the collection and maintenance of a database of 50 million biographical and biometric data.

The company employed around 4000 people initially to develop solutions and create the database. Currently around 1200 people are working on maintaining the solutions. Wipro worked on Project Panchdeep in five modules namely Pehchan, Milap, Pashan, Dhanwantri and Pragati.

After 18 months, Wipro has been able to provide ‘Pehchan Cards’ to seven million workers, reaching out to another 28 million people including their dependents. Lahiri says that data of 80 lakh IPs has been captured till date. The cards store all the necessary information of the workers, including biometric identification. Pehchan has enabled workers to seek ESIC benefits anytime and anywhere, even if the workers are at one location and their dependents are at another. According to Lahiri the development team has already networked the 2,200 locations and has a centralized set up.

However, after the implementation of the project, the website that employers had access to and was to be used to load data faced major problems. It crashed due to a bug in the backend, which meant that employers registered with ESIC were unable to generate their monthly contribution. This did create a major furor and for a while ESIC had to go back to manual methods. Talking about the issue, ESIC DG Dr Kedar says, “The portal was experiencing some technical problems because of which employers were having trouble accessing the application to generate their monthly contribution and register their employees.”

According to Wipro the site had become inaccessible due to a “unique” technical problem in the application software. “Wipro identified the problem and put in place a solution to resolve the issue. The application performance has since improved and the portal is up and running once again,” informs Dr Kedar.