Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s announcement of a national health ID for every Indian is considered as India’s first step towards Universal Health Coverage. On 15th August, Modi addressed the nation on the occasion of 74th Independence Day of India.
The ambitious Mission of National Digital Health finds its roots in a 2018 Niti Aayog proposal. It aimed at identifying every citizen uniquely in the National Health Stack and inaugurating a centralized mechanism system in India.
PM Modi’s speech had confidence and showed determination in storing each individual’s medical records digitally in the form of Health ID.
In his speech, the prime minister said the health ID will store every individual’s medical records and this will eventually welcome a grand revolution in the country’s health sector.
“From today, technology will play a huge role in major campaigns which will be launched. The National Digital Health Mission is being launched today and this will bring a new revolution in India’s health sector. It will help in reducing problems of getting treatment with the help of technology,” he said in his Independence Day speech from Red Fort.
Modi ensured guaranteed access of Health ID to every citizen of India which will serve as an online health account and will also ease all the current difficulties of getting access to health care.
How this Health ID works?
As per the National Health Authority (NHA), a person can avail of the Health ID if he/she wishes to have their health records stored digitally. For that, one must download the National Health ID app which is available in the Google Store, and give the necessary information. It will require a person’s basic details and mobile number only.
Every information starting from a person’s medical data and prescriptions to diagnostic reports and summaries of previous discharge from hospitals will be contained in the health ID. It will be akin to a Digi-locker where all the documents can be stored in an electronic format.
National Digital Health Mission (NDHM) will be incorporated to seek the consent of a patient and will facilitate a smooth flow of health information from the Personal Health Records module.
“It will be like a digitized “swasth khata” (health book) of a person and will contain details of their medical history, physicians consulted, tests done, etc,” the prime minister said.
Although the Health ID will not be mandatory to have, yet the Indian Government wishes that the digital features will attract a lot of people who will have hassle-free access to all their health records since birth.
Where can you use this ID?
This National health ID is applicable throughout the whole country in pharmacies, clinics, hospitals, and laboratories.
Modi has also given the assurance of data protection. The proposal of the National Health ID will immensely help in reducing preventable medical error risk and increase the quality of medical care significantly. The records of health will be shared only after an individual authorizes it.
“It is completely voluntary and only an individual who wants to have the ID can do so. But when such an ID is created, all health data generated will automatically be stored in the government community cloud to ensure full privacy and safety,” said a government official.
The ID will not be linked to Adhaar as it cannot be used as recognition for government programs as per the regulations. Adhaar will only come to play when an individual will want to avail of any cash transfer benefit schemes.
Data Privacy and More
The health records of an individual will guarantee total privacy. It will be accessible and shareable only when the patient will give consent. The patient will have complete control of the records.
“An appropriate digital consent framework as per standards specified by NDHB will be adopted for consent management,” the NDHB document outlines.
The initiative will also make the doctors and health care personnel upload any digital copy of physically shared health reports by patients for creating health records data.
“There is something called a consent manager. Even if a doctor wants to go through some reports, the person will get a message asking if access can be granted to the doctor and for what length of time. That is a big difference. Without the consent of the holder, even the government has no right to access his/her data,” said one of the officials.
The “ownership” of these health records will remain with the individual and will be accessed through the app.
Modi government’s Pradhan Mantri Jan Arogya Yojana implemented by National Health Authority (NHA) has also been working on creating a digital field in India’s health ecosystem for the past 6 months. These joint initiatives can bring transparency and efficiency in India’s Healthcare services and is expected to be instrumental in paving a way to give COVID vaccines to the masses.
The Indian prime minister reassured the nation that “we will win” against the COVID-19 and the citizen’s “strong will” will lead to the ultimate victory.