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Sunday, February 28, 2021

In the works: Delhi govt helpline for mental healthcare

The government has set August 2021 as the deadline for rolling out the system, called the Health Information Management System (HIMS).

Written by Sourav Roy Barman | New Delhi |
January 30, 2021 3:31:53 am
mental health, depression, suicide preventionTime to pay attention to your mental health. (Source: Getty Images/Thinkstock)

A 24×7 helpline manned by healthcare staff to provide free tips on healthy living, assistance in case of health scares and help in coping with stress, depression, anxiety or a drastic change in lifestyle brought about by a pandemic — these features make up the blueprint of the Delhi government’s proposed Health Helpline Services, which is a part of an ambitious initiative to prepare a cloud-based database of clinical information of patients and records of hospitals across the city.

The government has set August 2021 as the deadline for rolling out the system, called the Health Information Management System (HIMS).

While the government shared the broad contours of the proposed system last year, the finer details have emerged in the tender floated to engage agencies to run the helpline.

A government official said the need for a helpline was acutely felt after the Covid-19 outbreak, with home isolation coupled with remote monitoring of health of patients emerging as one of the most effective ways to contain the disease.

“The tele advisory will broadly have two levels. Apart from call centre agents attending to such requests at first level, level two would have dedicated healthcare staff, on needs basis, during specific times of the day. Tele-advisory will be provided by a panel of healthcare staff which primarily would include nurses, technicians or paramedics as nominated and decided by the government of Delhi,” the document says.

It adds that “based on requirement”, the system may include junior or senior doctors as well.

The healthcare staff available over the helpline will be equipped to offer general advice on “stress, depression, anxiety, post trauma recovery (non-critical), HIV/AIDS/RTI/STI/epidemic/pandemic etc related precautions and good practices.”

The helpline, which may also include “voice recognition” software for security purposes, will also assist people with information on hospital services, schedule of doctors, making appointments, and filing complaints on negligence and corruption, among others.

The other features of the proposed helpline include availability of “information/advice on long-term illnesses like asthma, diabetes, heart issues; information, precaution and response to health scares, and other local/national epidemics; basic health and symptoms checker for initial assessment, advice related to flu and general illness, pregnancy.”

The 24×7 helpline centre will have up to 50 seats and each shift will be eight-hours-long.

The government had previously announced a plan to generate QR code-based e-health cards of patients to collate clinical details of all patients in one place under the HIMS. The health cards were first proposed in early 2018.

There are around 38 hospitals, including government facilities and society-run hospitals, with an overall bed strength of nearly 11,000 beds in the capital. The middle-tier of the healthcare system is made up of dispensaries and polyclinics – numbering around 180 and 25 respectively – followed by over 500 mohalla clinics.

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