Government & Civil Society

Type of Investment


Project Stage

Test & Transition

Length of Investment


Investment Overview

J-PAL South Asia’s Innovations in Data and Experiments for Action (IDEA) Initiative tackles the opportunity gap from underused administrative data in policy decisions. GIF funding will help create innovative partnerships with Indian states, demonstrating administrative data's potential in decision-making through their flagship health insurance programmes.


The Development Challenge

Over the past decade, widespread digitisation of data systems has led to the availability of large volumes of data. India, despite substantial investments in data infrastructure, underutilises data beyond immediate administrative purposes. This is particularly evident in the ‘data-rich’ health sector where national and state governments have launched multiple management information systems (MIS) to collect data on service delivery, utilisation, and supplies. However, the use of this administrative data is limited to routine process reporting and is rarely deployed systematically for strategic planning or course correction. This represents a lost opportunity for optimising resource allocation and improving the overall effectiveness of health service.


The Innovation

The J-PAL South IDEA Initiative aims to address the data utilisation gap by developing a 'health insurance data use case' through an innovative partnership model with three Indian states: Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, and Haryana. This initiative focuses on optimising resource allocation and process improvements within the Pradhan Mantri Jan Arogya Yojana health insurance program, which aims to provide 100 million families, the poorest 40% of the population, access to secondary and tertiary care. J-PAL achieves this by addressing critical questions using existing data to enhance resource allocation and process improvements, ultimately aiming to maximise the insurance benefits for the poorest segments of the Indian population. Additionally, J-PAL has deployed a research-led model that engages domain experts to expand the scope of work beyond health insurance to health systems and climate change in partnership with local and state governments. This model leverages Indian researchers’ domain expertise, government connections, and local networks alongside J-PAL’s institutional expertise in academic rigor and network across diverse policy areas to ensure sustainability beyond the grant period.


Our Investment

In December 2020, The Global Innovations Fund (GIF) awarded a USD 702K grant to J-PAL India. The objective was to test out the value proposition for utilising administrative data to solve for program inefficiencies within health insurance programs across three states in India.

This entails the development of a "Health Insurance Data Use Case" in India through an innovative partnership model with state governments. Leveraging existing data, the initiative aims to demonstrate and encourage improvements in state capacity for meaningful data usage, leading to enhanced decision making and service delivery. Moreover, a researcher-led model will expand the initiative's scope to multiple regions and sectors, including climate change, supporting the broader vision of institutionalising effective data use practices in governments. Ultimately, the project will generate insights into how to institutionalise such practices effectively.


Progress to date

J-PAL has successfully generated interest among state governments to utilise administrative data to improve decision making and program efficiencies in health insurance programming. For instance, after conducting in depth data readiness analysis and data diagnostics across all three states, J-PAL co-developed state specific scopes of work to continue engagement. To support capacity building, guidelines for data quality management were developed, and training workshops were organised for government officers, alongside the creation of good data capability tools and code books. A white paper on learnings from the IDEA initiative in India through the Health Insurance use case is expected to be published in March 2024.


J-PAL Health Insurance Project in numbers


GIF Grant