Health Sector – UHC, National Health Policy, Family Planning, Health Insurance, etc.

National Digital Health Mission

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Digital health id

Mains level : National digital health mission

digital healthContext

  • The covid-19 pandemic has presented a watershed moment, bringing the world’s healthcare systems to a halt, forcing us to rethink existing healthcare delivery models and embrace the digital health transformation of the sector.

Definition of digital health care

  • Digital health is a discipline that includes digital care programs, technologies with health, healthcare, living, and society to enhance the efficiency of healthcare delivery and to make medicine more personalized and precise.

Digital Health: A Backgrounder

  • The National Health Policy 2017 had envisaged creation of a digital health technology eco-system aiming at developing an integrated health information system.
  • A Digital Health ID was proposed to reduce the risk of preventable medical errors and significantly increase the quality of care.
  • It recognised the need to establish a specialised ecosystem, called the National Digital Health Mission (NDHM).

digital healthThe National Digital Health Mission

  • The NDHM is a digital health ecosystem under which every Indian citizen will now have unique health IDs, digitized health records with identifiers for doctors and health facilities.
  • The mission will significantly improve the efficiency, effectiveness, and transparency of health service delivery and will be a major step towards the achievement of the UN Sustainable Development Goal 3.8 of Universal Health Coverage, including financial risk protection.

Digital health is a discipline that includes digital care programs, technologies with health, healthcare, living, and society to enhance the efficiency of healthcare delivery and to make medicine more personalized and precise.Significance of digital health

  • Prioritizing patients: Say, mortality from Covid-19 is significantly increased by comorbidities or the presence of other underlying conditions like hypertension or diabetes.With digital health records, doctors can prioritise patients based on their test results.
  • Portability of health records: Portability of records fairly eases in a patient with the first hospital visit, or her/his most frequently visited hospital. If she/he wishes to change a healthcare provider for cost or quality reasons, she can access her health records without carrying pieces of paper prescriptions and test reports. People will able to access their lab reports, x-rays and prescriptions irrespective of where they were generated, and share them with doctors or family members — with consent.
  • Easy facilitation: This initiative will allow patients to access healthcare facilities remotely through e-pharmacies, online appointments, teleconsultation, and other health benefits. Besides, as all the medical history of the patient is recorded in the Health ID card, it will help the doctor to understand the case better, and improved medication can be offered.
  • Technology impetus in policymaking: Meanwhile, it is also not just individuals who could emerge beneficiaries of the scheme. With large swathes of data being made available, the government too can form policies based on geographical, demographical, and risk-factor based monitoring of health.

Critical point to remember

In the case of lung cancer, only 18.5 % of patients survive five or more years once diagnosed. These are threats that data-led technology will help address.

Major privacy issues involved

  • Informed Consent:The citizen’s consent is vital for all access. A beneficiary’s consent is vital to ensure that information is released.
  • Data leakages issue:Personalised data collected at multiple levels are a “sitting gold mine” for insurance companies, international researchers, and pharma companies.
  • Digital divide:Other experts add that lack of access to technology, poverty, and lack of understanding of the language in a vast and diverse country like India are problems that need to be looked into.
  • Data Migration:The data migration and inter-State transfer are still faced with multiple errors and shortcomings in addition to concerns of data security.

Other challenges

  • Existing digitalization is yet incomplete:India has been unable to standardise the coverage and quality of the existing digital cards like One Nation One Ration card, PM-JAY card, Aadhaar card, etc., for accessibility of services and entitlements.
  • Lack of healthcare facilities:The defence of data security by expressed informed consent doesn’t work in a country that is plagued by the acute shortage of healthcare professionals to inform the client fully.
  • Lack of finance:With the minuscule spending of 1.3% of the GDP on the healthcare sector, India will be unable to ensure the quality and uniform access to healthcare that it hoped to bring about.

Conclusion

  • With an enabling ecosystem, supported by effective policies for digital healthcare and increased innovation, the promise of digital solutions in healthcare is immense. It’s not long before precision healthcare becomes central to the health and well-being of every citizen.

Mains question

Q. The covid-19 pandemic has presented a watershed moment, bringing the world’s healthcare systems to a halt, forcing us to rethink existing healthcare delivery models. In this context discuss challenges and opportunities of digital health ecosystem in India.

UPSC 2023 countdown has begun! Get your personal guidance plan now! (Click here)

1 Comment
Oldest
Newest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Rahul Bansal
Rahul Bansal
5 months ago

Nice Article