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healthcare | IST

Basic framework for Ayushman Bharat Digital Mission has been laid out, says RS Sharma of NHA

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Prime Minister Narendra Modi on September 27 launched the Ayushman Bharat Digital Mission, under which a digital health ID will be provided to citizens. that will carry their health records. National Health Authority Chairman R.S. Sharma said the mission seeks to provide an efficient and affordable digital ecosystem, where patients can access quality healthcare.

Following a pilot programme in some cities and Union Territories, the government has officially rolled out the Ayushman Bharat Digital Mission. In the words of the National Health Authority (NHA) chairman, the mission seeks to provide an efficient and affordable digital ecosystem where patients can access quality healthcare. So how will it work?
Under the mission, every Indian will get a unique 14-digit health identification number that will be generated through the Aadhaar or mobile number. Key features of the scheme will include a health identity card, a mobile application and an account where personal health records can be accessed.
The account will be a repository of registries of all healthcare professionals and facilities. So patients can connect with doctors, hospitals, labs and pharmacies for appointments and tele consultations, as well as place orders for medicines and book ambulances.
But there are concerns on data storage. Ayushman Bharat will not store data; it will be stored with healthcare providers, as per their policies. This is especially important because a data protection law is still in the works.
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Talking about the pilot stage, R.S. Sharma, CEO, NHA, said, “In the last one year we formalised and finalised the various digital components. So, for example, the electronic medical records, the personal health records, the registry of the doctors, registry of the drugs, registry of the healthcare service provider were constructed… that is number one. Number two, we actually populated this registry. So the healthcare registry, doctors registry etc in all these Union Territories were populated. They had gone live so to say. And then, of course, the transactions in terms of tele consultations by the patients… that also has happened.”
He added, “The interoperability, which is actually going to be the strength of this programme, that was not played out in a way. But other components of the programme in terms of proving that they do work, doing the proof of concept, doing the sandboxing -- there are a large number of players who are sandboxing with us to connect with this overall platform -- that has happened.”
Sharma said, “More than 70 percent of the healthcare providers are registered on the digital health platform. The basic framework for the digital mission has been laid out completely. We are going to launch countrywide, which will mean at a very accelerated pace.”
On data privacy and data storage, Sharma said, “We are very conscious of this, so one fundamental principle is that it is the patient who is in charge of his or her own data. So without his or her consent, that data cannot be shared. The digital mission platform is not going to store any data relating to transactions. Transactions, like a prescription, are not going to reside on this. It is going to reside at the facility at which the patient was being treated or where he or she got consultation done and also on the device and the application which the person their mobile device or computer.”
He added, “However, it is very important to have a common framework of interoperability of the data. It should not happen that the data written at one place cannot be read at the other place. So I think digitisation of the data and evolving a common framework is important.”
For full interview, watch accompanying video...