THD NewsDesk, NEW DELHI: On India’s 74th Independence Day, PM Modi took a revolutionary step in the direction of attaining Universal Health Coverage.
The Prime Minister introduced the concept of providing a National Health ID for every Indian citizen. The idea behind it was to carefully curate a digital ecosystem of patients’ health records to which the patients would have easy access.
National Digital Health Mission launched on 15 August is inspired by a 2018 Niti Aayog proposal suggesting a centralised scheme to uniquely identify every user in the National Health Stack. It aims to digitize patients’ health records. According to the policy, every Indian citizen will have registered unique health IDs (UHID) and medical records with identifiers for doctors and health facilities. In alternate words, the Unique Health ID assumes the role of a patient’s unique health account.
NDHM came in play when tonnes of data were generated after the implementation of National Health Policy, 2017. NHP, 2017 is an initiative of the central government to provide health insurance scheme for 100 million families, under the PM Jan Arogya Yojana (PM-JAY). NDHM is an essential component of the Ayushman Bharat Pradhan Mantri Jan Arogya Yojana (AB PM-JAY) scheme. It was introduced with the purpose of improving the efficiency and transparency of health services in the country.
National Health Authority (NHA) is the apex body responsible for implementing India’s flagship public health insurance scheme called “Ayushman Bharat Pradhan Mantri Jan Arogya Yojana.” Indu Bhushan, the CEO of NHA has the responsibility of supervising and implementing the scheme.
Speaking to an Economic Times’s correspondent Indu Bhushan said,
“NDHM envisions making the entire health system more efficient, responsive and sustainable through better access to healthcare data. All services under NDHM are built and designed to strengthen overall healthcare service delivery in India. NDHM shall enable evidence-based decision making, advanced analytics and better preventive healthcare by improving access and quality of healthcare data. NDHM shall also be integrated with various public health and nutrition programmes. We are working out the details on how aggregated and anonymised data from NDHM will be used for more evidence-based policy making.”
Addressing the prime concern of data privacy, he said,
“NDHM uses a federated architecture for storage of data, which means there is no central data store to hack. Your health record is either held by the healthcare provider who created it or there is a copy with you. All participants in the NDHM ecosystem will need to be in compliance with all relevant policies including the NDHM’s Health Data Management Policy. The NDHM infrastructure as per policy can only be in India.”
Further elaborating on the government’s plan to include the vast digitally illiterate population of the country, he assured that a specialised offline system would be introduced soon after. The government intends to work in close association with local Panchayati raj institutions, frontline ASHAs and Anganwadi workers to facilitate citizens in creating their UHIDs.
The stress on digitalization of health records has gained prominence during the lockdown, especially since WHO recommended the use of telemedicine. Telemedicine has become essential in a time when hospitals have become inaccessible and forms a core component of NDHM.
It aims to improve access to healthcare facilities in remote areas lacking health infrastructure. Moreover, Ayushman Bharat Health & Wellness Centres for teleconsultation services will be set up throughout the country, beginning with 6 union territories.
Answering queries raised by experts, Mr. Bhushan affirmed that the involvement of the broader public sector and private sector will be crucial to the process. He has welcomed any kind of recommendations from all stakeholders in the digital ecosystem. NDHM has invited the participation of healthcare providers, technology companies, startups and other stakeholders in the private sector. However, all the participants are subject to certain prescribed privacy and security guidelines.
SOURCE: Economic Times