The National Health Authority (NHA) is planning to introduce a new feature in its Ayushman Bharat Health Account (ABHA) app that will allow users to create their ABHA ID using face authentication, which will be linked to their Aadhar number. This move is part of the Ayushman Bharat Digital Mission (ABDM), which aims to establish a digital health ecosystem in the country for easy sharing and access of health records digitally.
While this feature has raised concerns about privacy, the government believes that it will simplify the process of ABHA ID creation by eliminating the need for OTP verification on registered mobile numbers. NHA is seeking technical support from the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) to implement this initiative.
According to an official familiar with the matter, "Face authentication service is being offered by UIDAI which NHA is also trying to incorporate in its ABHA app. It is just like a person gives their thumb impression, now an individual can also use his/her face for authentication. A person just needs to give his Adhaar number and put his face on camera, it will check whether the Adhaar number and photo that you are sharing match the photo. Currently, it is in the testing phase and very soon it will be implemented."
The introduction of face authentication is expected to benefit users who face challenges with mobile authentication due to reasons such as outdated mobile numbers. Currently, only 10 per cent of Aadhar users use mobile authentication for ABHA ID creation.
Since the launch of ABDM, 378 million ABHA IDs have been created and 261.7 million health records have been linked. NHA emphasises that security and privacy are the core principles of ABDM implementation, with data being stored in a federated model where it is created and no data being stored centrally.