The COVID-19 pandemic revealed the faults and the severe drawbacks of Indian healthcare to protect the health of its population during atrocities.Soon government and healthcare organisations realized it is time to bring about a change in the healthcare system and improve it urgently. So Prime Minister Narendra Modi introduced and announced the National Digital Health Mission during his 2020 Independence Day Speech. This mission will be implemented under Ayushman Bharat Pradhan Mantri Jan Arogya Yojana.
The National Digital Health Mission ‘s roots comes from the 2017 National Health Policy, which introduced a new National Digital Health Authority. A committee led by former UIDAI chairman Satyanarayana released the National Digital Health Blueprint in July 2019. The blueprint proposes two building blocks — Personal Health Identifier (PHI) and Health Master Directories & Registries — to manage the specific identification criteria for people, services, illnesses, and devices. These building blocks shall be fitted with the option of interoperability to access digital records seamlessly. Aadhaar will certainly be at the forefront of the digital health project.
Technology will play an important role in this digital health initiative by the government.The National Digital Health Mission (NDHM) is expected to boost the country’s health services’ quality, effectiveness and accountability, the government said. As per the programme every Indian citizen will now have unique health IDs, digitized health records with identifiers for doctors and health facilities.”It will be like a digitised ‘swasth khata’ (health book) for a patient and will contain information of their medical history, doctors consulted, tests performed etc,” the Prime Minister said. The NDHM document also notes that health records will be open and exchanged by the patient with sufficient consent and full record control will remain with the patient. The project would also require doctors / hospitals to submit a digital copy of all clinical notes that are physically exchanged with the patient, so that accurate records can be generated.
This digital ecosystem powered by the National Digital Health Mission will have the following nuances:
- Patient is the supreme
- Inclusivity in healthcare
- Data is crucial
- Cutting down cost
Although full mission details are still awaited, with India still lacking a data protection law, it is expected that the digital health mission and the policy relation to Aadhaar will cause privacy concerns in the coming days.