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

What are the concerns of digital health mission?


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Ayushman Bharat Digital Mission

Mains level: Ayushman Bharat Digital Mission

The Ayushman Bharat Digital Mission (ABDM), was recently launched by the PM.

About Ayushman Bharat Digital Mission

  • The pilot project of the National Digital Health Mission was announced by PM Modi during his Independence Day speech from the Red Fort on August 15, 2020.
  • The mission will enable access and exchange of longitudinal health records of citizens with their consent.
  • This will ensure ease of doing business for doctors and hospitals and healthcare service providers.

The key components of the project include

  • Health ID for every citizen that will also work as their health account, to which personal health records can be linked and viewed with the help of a mobile application,
  • Healthcare Professionals Registry (HPR)
  • Healthcare Facilities Registries (HFR) that will act as a repository of all healthcare providers across both modern and traditional systems of medicine

How will it work?

  • In order to be a part of the ABDM, citizens will have to create a unique health ID – a randomly generated 14-digit identification number.
  • The ID will give the user unique identification, authentication and will be a repository of all health records of a person.
  • The ID can also be made by self-registration on the portal, downloading the ABMD Health Records app on one’s mobile or at a participating health facility.
  • The beneficiary will also set up a Personal Health Records (PHR) address for the issue of consent, and for future sharing of health records.

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.

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