NEW DELHI: An ambitious initiative National Digital Health Mission, announced by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in his Independence Day speech on Saturday, will see the creation of health IDs for every citizen that will enable storing personal medical records and disease history electronically.
Under the scheme, longitudinal health record data for every individual will be recorded in a digital reservoir and standard protocols will be implemented to prevent unwarranted tests.
To begin with, the initiative which is part of the Ayushman Bharat scheme is being rolled out in 6 Union Territories including Chandigarh, Puducherry, Andaman and Nicobar Islands, Daman & Diu, Dadra & Nagar Haweli and Daman & Diu, Ladakh, and Lakshwadeep.
The mission is to be spearheaded by the National Health Authority—which is operationalising Pradhan Mantri Jan Aarogya Yojana, a scheme to provide hospitalisation coverage of up to Rs 5 lakh to a big chunk of the population.
Among other things, the plan is also aimed at providing easy access to electronic health records to citizens, generating longitudinal health record data, and also ensuring the privacy of personal health data along with consent-based access to electronic health records.
“Creating health ID cards that will have with the registry of doctors and health facilities in a specific area and serving as a digi-locker for personal health records of individuals who opt for the service is a key component of the scheme,” a top official in the Union health ministry told this newspaper.
“At the individual level, it means that when you go to see a doctor, you don’t need to carry physical records if you have the previous records stored in the ID—and you can decide how much of your personal record you want to show to the doctor,” he added stressing that privacy of the personal information will be ensured.
However, unlike PMJAY, which is entitlement based, this facility is voluntary and can be availed by citizens by paying nominal registration fee.
To ensure that data across different health care providers are collated into a longitudinal record these disconnected systems would need to be interoperable and follow standards such as the Indian electronic health records standards 2016, said sources.
Dr Oommen John, secretary, Asia Pacific Association for Medical Informatics who contributed to the consultations on the Mission and its blueprint, launched last year, expressed pleasure that health has clearly become a political priority and an integral component of the Independent day announcements by the PM.
“With the NDHM, the PM-JAY program would be well-positioned to monitor longer-term outcomes, minimize variability of care quality, and ensure the continuum of care,” he said.
Dr. John added that electronic health records will also allow understanding the health risk profile of those being enrolled and preventive health Interventions through the primary care arm under health and wellness centres.
Vikram Thaploo, CEO, Apollo Telehealth also welcomed the launch saying that health ID cards will help consolidate medical records, ensure a uniform standard of care, and minimize errors in record keeping.
“If electronic health records are linked to the Aadhaar card, it can be used to create patient registries for big data analytics, which will allow physicians to track the health status of their patients, perform better predictive analyses, and improve health outcomes,” he said.
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