TODAY -

Digital Health ID - Looking forward to mission 'one for all Healthy India'

Dr Nunglekpam Premi Devi *



"Every Indian will get a Health ID card. Every time you visit a doctor or a pharmacy, everything will be logged in this card. From the doctor's appointment to the medication, everything will be available in your health profile." PM Narendra Modi said in his Independence Day Speech, 2020.

'National Digital Health Mission' was announced by the Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi in his 74th Independence Day speech, as a part of the Ayushman Bharat Yojana, Pradhan Mantri Jan Arogya Yojana (AB PM-JAY or Prime Minister's People's Health Scheme providing free access to healthcare for 40% of people in the country) and other information technology, IT-enabled schemes like Reproductive Child Healthcare, NIKSHAY (the web enabled patient management system for TB control under the National Tuberculosis Elimination Programme (NTEP), developed and maintained by the Central TB Division (CTD), Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, Government of India.

'National Digital Health Mission' idea began when Niti Aayog floated a consultation of a digital backbone for India's health system National Health Stack (NHS). NHS was intended to be a digital infrastructure built with the aim of making the health insurance system more transparent and robust, while factoring in the uniqueness of India's health sector, and the political realities of federalism.

After presenting the National Digital Health Blueprint (NDHB) report, the Union Minister of Health and Family Welfare sought inputs from various stakeholders on quality of care, better access, universal health coverage, and inclusiveness.

The main features of Digital Health Mission is to provide efficient and affordable health coverage to every Indian citizen through a wide-range of data unique Health IDs, digitized health records with identifiers for doctors, health facilities and services. Open digital health ID system will provide high-quality healthcare facilities and integrate various digital health services.

Digital Doctor option will allow doctors from across the country to enroll with their details, including their contact numbers. These doctors will also be assigned digital signatures for free which can be used for writing prescriptions.

And it will be voluntary for the hospitals and doctors to provide details for the app. It envisions a digital registry of doctors, hospitals, pharmacies and insurance companies, digital personal health records, and digital clinical decision systems.

As per the National Health Authority (NHA), the apex body responsible for implementing India's flagship public health insurance/assurance scheme - Ayushman Bharat Pradhan Mantri Jan Arogya Yojana (AB-PMJAY), digital health mission will encourage every patient to have their health records available digitally by creating a unique Health ID.

This health Identity (ID) will contain information about medical data, medicine prescriptions and various diagnostic reports, files and summaries of previous discharge from hospitals for ailments and diseases.

Moreover this health ID will have basic details like phone number, Aadhaar number etc to allow seamless flow of health information from the Personal Health Records module. "It will be like a digitized "swasth khata" (health book) for a patient and will contain details of their medical data, history, physicians consulted, tests done, prescriptions and diagnostic reports etc," Prime Minister explained in his Independence Day speech this year.

Health ID will be applicable across states, hospitals, diagnostic laboratories, insurance companies, both telemedicine firms and online pharmacies. Although it will not be mandatory, its features and obvious benefits will naturally attract the citizens.

For the first time, and as a pilot project, the National Digital Health Mission will be rolled out in six union territories in the country - Chandigarh, Ladakh, Dadra and Nagar Haveli and Daman and Diu, Puducherry, Andaman and Nicobar Islands, and Lakshadweep.

The National Digital Health Mission will be established as a purely government organization with complete functional autonomy on the lines of Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) and Goods and Services Network GSTN with the objectives aligned to the Vision of National Health Policy 2017 and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) relating to the health sector.

Digital Health ID is expected to greatly reduce the risk of preventable medical errors and significantly increase quality of healthcare. Looking deeper into the National Health Policy 2017, it had also envisaged creation of a digital health technology eco-system aiming at developing an integrated health information system that serves the needs of all stakeholders and improves efficiency, transparency and citizens' experience with linkage across public and private healthcare.

National Health ID will be a repository of all health-related information of every citizen. This will have the obvious benefit for policy making in social field. Trends of diseases and interventions required region wise will be automatically available to the authorities, enabling them to intervene effectively at micro level.

It will harness the available medical resources in the country through the power of modern digital connectivity. It will not only save millions of lives per year, but also ensure better quality of life to all. Death rate, infant mortality rate, malnutrition and many such indicators of a healthy nation will automatically improve


* Dr Nunglekpam Premi Devi wrote this article for Imphal Times
This article was webcasted on August 31 2020 .



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