OUTLINING A new electronic records system using Aadhaar as an option for identification, a Ministry of Health and Family Welfare committee has recommended the setting up of a National Digital Health Mission (NDHM) to manage “enormous amounts of health data” generated by Ayushman Bharat, the Centre’s flagship health programme.
The NDHM would provide technology to manage and analyse data, and create a system of personal health records and health applications. Central to the “ecosystem” would be a Personal Health Identifier (PHI) to maintain a Personal Health Record (PHR).
The PHI would contain the names of patients and those of their immediate family, date of birth, gender, mobile number, email address, location, family ID and photograph.
“While Aadhaar assures uniqueness of identity and provides an online mechanism for authentication, it cannot be used in every health context as per the applicable regulations. The design of PHI, therefore, must allow multiple identifiers (chosen from the specified types of identifiers) for designing the structure and processes relating to PHI,” the committee’s report states.
It has suggested that the Ministry should consult Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI), which issues Aadhaar, and the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY) in the design of the PHI.
These recommendations come from a National Digital Health Blueprint (NDHB) created by a committee under former MeitY Secretary and UIDAI ex-chairman J Satyanarayana. They are open for public comments until August 4.
The 14-member committee included officials from the Health Ministry, state governments, NITI Aayog, MeitY, National eGovernance Division (NeGD), National Informatics Centre (NIC), Centre for Development of Advanced Computing (CDAC) and All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS).
The panel envisions the new Mission to be autonomous like UIDAI and GSTN (Goods and Services Tax Network). It would be partly funded by the government but will also “raise a part of its funding through a transaction fee” with private players.
The committee has also suggested a Command, Control, and Communication Center (CCCC) as a single point of contact in public health emergencies. It estimates that all the components of the Mission would take about 18 months to develop.
Drawing on examples from England’s National Health Services-Digital (NHS Digital) and South Korea’s electronic system, the report states that technology deployment and data-driven decision-making in healthcare has been inadequate in India.
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