Policy Implementation Lab: Explore Suvarna Arogya Suraksha Trust (SAST)


Tata Centre for Development at UChicago & International Innovation Corps

in collaboration with

Suvarna Arogya Surakha Trust


Policy Implementation Lab: Explore Suvarna Arogya Suraksha Trust (SAST)

Monday, 8 May 2017 and Tuesday, 9 May 2017
Bengaluru, India

SAST is a Special Purpose Vehicle established to implement the flagship health schemes of the Department of Health and Family Welfare, Government of Karnataka. It is responsible for implementing the state of Karnataka’s Universal Health Coverage agenda alongside the Health Commissionerate. SAST is making rapid progress in convergence of multiple schemes under its implementation umbrella to improve utilization, increase efficiency and eliminate redundancy. We invite you to participate in a 360-degree exploratory discussion about SAST and its implementation innovations.

Tata Centre of Development at UChicago’s Policy Implementation Lab is a no-holds barred space for discussion and debate that goes deeper than the average conference format allows to uncover practical skills and actionable insights for policy implementation. This is a space to step outside the panel discussion format, engage in meaningful conversation, network and find tangible take-away messages. And it doesn’t end there. We reach out and re-engage you on your take-aways at one, three and then six month milestones after the event to offer you support and get feedback on your learning.    

Who are we?

The University of Chicago (UChicago), one of the world's premier academic and research institutions, has driven new ways of thinking since its founding in 1890. Today, UChicago is an intellectual destination that draws inspired scholars and thinkers to challenge conventional thinking in pursuit of original ideas.

The Tata Centre for Development at UChicago (TCD) is a development accelerator with offices in Delhi and Chicago. Through its three wings – research, implementation and capacity building – the TCD tests, implements and delivers actionable, scalable and high-impact development ideas to the government and non-profit sector in India.  

The International Innovation Corps (IIC) is a social impact and implementation consulting practice founded at UChicago. The IIC recruits, trains and embeds young professionals from the best universities in the world to assist government and non-profit sector partners to scale their development programs and achieve tangible impacts. The IIC is the implementation wing of the TCD in India.  

Is this another conference with presentations by people who do not know my job?


Which is why the TCD’s very first Policy Implementation Lab will be held at and co-hosted by the Suvarna Arogya Suraksha Trust (SAST), Government of Karnataka. The central thrust of this event is foster discussion amongst you and your peers about an administrative model - SAST - and whether or how it will work in your context. We do have some presentations from both practitioners and TCD-IIC leadership; but we promise to keep them short. But our goal in each session is to make a brief presentation and pose questions for the group to debate and share.  

TCD and IIC are founded on the fundamental principle that there are already many dedicated people with excellent ideas about how to tackle entrenched problems of development and poverty within the public sector. Where these ideas often flounder is in their execution - in the transition from pilot to program, or from translation to one location to another, or in eliciting the behavior change from the very communities they are designed to benefit. We’re here to deliberate these challenges together with you.  


A few good reasons.  

  • SAST’s unique administrative design has allowed it to experiment with implementation innovations and pursue ambitious strategic priorities that are worth exploring in a deeper conversation with its peers.

  • The Ministry of Health & Family Welfare (MoHFW) has recently designated SAST a learning hub.

  • SAST has partnered with TCD and IIC for several years. We are happy to share how this exciting collaboration works!

Unpacking the Value of Health Insurance in India: Fostering Dialogue Amongst Methodologies Workshop

November 15, 2016

Neubauer Collegium for Culture and Society

Universal health coverage (UHC) is central to the post-2015 (sustainable development goal) development agenda and constitutes the umbrella global health goal.  India is one of the broad spectrums of countries that have moved toward UHC.  Its enactment of first large-scale public health insurance program called Rashtriya (National) Swasthya (Health) Bima (Insurance) Yojana (Scheme) or RSBY follows a trend towards UHC throughout the world. RSBY resembles Medicaid in the US in that it provides free health insurance targeted at the very poor. The program aims to cover all 300 million people who fall below the Indian government’s official poverty line (BPL) Upon meeting that goal, it will be among the largest health insurance programs in the world [4, 5] and will cover 1 in every 23 humans on the planet.

What are the perils and promise of the scheme? How has it fared so far? What is its value for the citizens? How does economic and political environment impact the implementation and experience of RSBY? What is its future? These were some of key questions that motivated a group of researchers, under the leadership of Anup Malani at the University of Chicago, to undertake an interdisciplinary research project on RSBY titled: “Unpacking the Value of Health Insurance in India”. The project brought together scholars from different disciplinary perspectives using different methodologies for data information gathering and analysis to measure a broader range of outcomes and arrive at a more comprehensive and nuanced understanding of behavior, value and the impact of thisinsurance in India.  

The research team is now ready to share some of its findings from the field research with scholars working on the subject representing different disciplines and methodologies. Toward this end, we are organizing a workshop to engage in methodological and cross-disciplinary dialogue on health insurance in India. The aim of the workshop is to explore and understand the economic, political, cultural, epistemological and ethical dimension of the uptake of RSBY/health insurance in India. It aims to understand how economic behavior, political interests, cultural norms and meaning-making, epistemological understanding and ethical values are embedded in and influence therein the health insurance behavior and how each of these dimensions gains significance in relation to one another

If the purpose of research is to understand human behavior, it is important to also understand whether and how research itself has implications for human behavior.  The other central objective of the workshop is therefore to throw light on how research process - particularly how and what researchers communicate about health insurance, and the words and expressions they use to ask and tell about RSBY to the research subjects - impacts health insurance behavior and actions of the latter. Does a particular way of asking questions about health insurance influence whether they will be motivated to use or shy away from using it? Does communicating not directly about health insurance but about related subjects such as health status and healthcare delivery have implications for health insurance behavior? Similarly, does being participant observer of an event or action related to health insurance enrolment or use or non-use influence health insurance behavior of the research subjects.

The workshop thus aims to build on the existing scholarship on health insurance in India, conceptually by unpacking the relational aspect of various dimensions of health insurance behavior, and methodologically by highlighting the how the use of field research tool-kit – words, expressions, and observations - has consequences for health insurance actions and behavior.


U.S. India Healthcare Innovation Leaders Roundtable

Dr. Arindam Nandi, the TCD's Associate Director of Research, attended the first sectoral event of the U.S.-India Innovation Forum, focused on Innovation in Healthcare. 

Participants at the November 9th Innovation in Healthcare roundtable, led by the CSIS Wadhwani Chair in U.S.-India Policy Studies, stressed the important role played by state and central government policy-making in improving India’s health environment, particularly in nurturing innovation.  

The panel featured four experts on healthcare innovation:

  • Sunil Wadhwani, the founding donor of the Wadhwani Initiative for Sustainable Healthcare (WISH). Through WISH, Mr. Wadhwani is using public-private partnerships to bring robust "last mile" healthcare provision to some of India's most remote areas.
  • Dr. Krishna Udayakumar, head of global innovation for Duke Medicine. As Executive Director of Innovations in Healthcare, Dr. Udayakumar helps innovators to scale and replicate successful health care delivery solutions globally. 
  • Ms. Catherine Robinson, the director for International Government Affairs at Pfizer. Pfizer is partnering with the Indian Institute of Technology, Delhi to create an accelerator for innovative health care technologies developed and deployed in India.
  • Ms. Roslyn Docktor, the director of Watson Health Policy at IBM. IBM's Watson Health Policy team is partnering with India's Manipal Hospital group to share state-of-the-art techniques for improving oncology diagnosis and care.

Chicago University teams up with Tata Trusts to launch Delhi centre

NEW DELHI: The University of Chicago is launching a research centre in Delhi in partnership with Tata Trusts to address some of India's most pressing economic and social development challenges from issues pertaining to sanitation and health. 

The Tata Centre for Development will be located at the university's centre in Delhi and will help build capacity for government, corporate and non-profit groups across India, people involved in the project said. 

The centre, led by the university's Harris School of Public Policy in the US and the University of Chicago Trust, a charitable trust in India, will also engage experts from the university and across diverse organisations in India to study and implement solutions to major policy challenges. 

"Development is a difficult challenge; none of us really know what the answer is. We want to try different techniques, novel techniques with substantial resources from each side," professor Anup Malani, faculty director of the Tata Centre for Development at the University of Chicago, told ET. 

The university said that the two entities will invest heavily in the centre to integrate evidence-based policy research, an innovative implementation platform, to tackle practical development issues across India. It did not disclose any amount, though. 

The centre will engage experts from the university and from across diverse organisations in India to study and implement solutions to major policy challenges related to health, water and sanitation, and energy and the environment, initially. It will work closely with policymakers, practitioners, academics and students, Tata Trusts said in a statement. 

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