Editorial Notes

[Editorial Notes] A Digital push for Healthcare

National Digital Health Mission and a unique identification number are likely to be launched on 15th August 2020.
By IASToppers
August 14, 2020

Contents:

  • Introduction
  • Vision of NDHB
  • Core Principles of NDHB
  • Concerns
  • Way Forward
  • Conclusion

A Digital push for Healthcare

For IASToppers’ Editorial Simplified Archive, click here

Introduction:

PM Modi is likely to launch the National Digital Health Mission and a unique identification number on 15th August with a special focus on healthcare amid the COVID-19 outbreak. NDHM would digitise personal medical records, connect diagnostic centres, medical institutions and state medical councils, facilitate easy appointment at the district hospital and verify all doctors.

Vision of National Digital Health Blueprint:

  • The National Digital Health Blueprint was released by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare for public comments in July 2019.
  • It is a step towards the National Digital Health Mission.
  • The vision of NDHB is to create a National Digital Health Eco-system that supports Universal Health Coverage in an efficient, accessible, inclusive, affordable, timely and safe manner.
  • It is aimed through the provision of a wide range of data, information and infrastructure services, duly leveraging open, interoperable, standards-based digital systems.
  • It envisages ensuring security, confidentiality and privacy of health-related personal information.

Core Principles of National Digital Health Blueprint:

  • Unique and Reliable Identification of persons, relations, professionals, providers, facilities, and payers across the whole eco-system.
  • Trustworthiness of the information created by the entities in the eco-system.
  • Capability for creation of a longitudinal health record for every individual from information held in diverse systems.
  • Managing the consents for collection and/or use of personal/ health data, to ensure privacy and confidentiality.

Concerns:

1. Overburden health workers:

  • A claims-driven documentation system that serves as a medico-legal instrument has the risk of reducing highly-trained professionals to data-entry operators who must enter billing and legal information.
  • There is a spiraling burden for documentation even for a small disease or injury.
  • It is imperative that India while embracing global standards rethinks what to document, when, why, and most importantly, by whom.
  • The country must harness advances in voice recognition, natural language processing, and machine learning to ignite its health data ecosystem without straining its over-burdened physicians and community health workers.

2. Data risk:

  • There is risk associated with free movement of sensitive personal health data and universal IDs.
  • There are concerns regarding accumulation, storage, transfer of personal data for third-party use.
  • There are concerns about migrating or morphing the stored data.

Way Forward:

  • To enable seamless data exchange, all users must be incentivised or mandated to adopt a standard language of communication.
  • The proposed NDHM is non-prescriptive i.e. it does not dictate a monolithic EMR (electronic medical record.
  • Instead, it provides a platform upon which market can compete to develop a range of applications that would facilitate data exchange between patients, providers and payers.
  • It seeks to protect patients by use of the consent manager framework, in lines with the Universal Payment Interface (UPI).
  • Health information can travel between entities only with requisite permission and with a permanent record of the transaction.

Conclusion:

The portability of clinically-relevant data across private-public divides and states will cut costs and save time. The ability to monitor compliance like responsible use of antibiotics etc. can profoundly alter practiceand improve the quality of care. These tectonic shifts won’t all happen suddenly but in the long run, it will overhaul the healthcare delivery system in India.

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