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Medical records go digital in India

Pravda Godbole  |  Pune 

Medical history, health information of patients are digitised and uploaded to a secure online account.

Maintaining digitised personal health records for customers, not a new domain overseas, is only now catching on among the desi diaspora.

The management of personal health records is a tedious task, which is why digitisation is being offered as a viable alternative. While service providers like Microsoft and Google have already entered this sector, a few India players are also eyeing it.

So, what is personal health information management? Under it, the medical history and health information of patients are first digitised and then uploaded to a secure online account by the service provider, after which the customer can e-mail, access and share the same with a doctor. These online repositories also have other health-related

In India, there are entities like Noida’s, the Bangalore-based Yos Technologies and the new-born Pune-based ArogyaDarpan, among others. enables its customers to store, manage and access their health records online while Yos Technologies offers an end-customer-focussed health system of secure personal records. ArogyaDarpan, only a couple of months old, hopes to provide a holistic service of collecting electronic/paper medical records, scanning and digitising the information, and saving it in an online repository/CD format.

“The exact market size estimation is difficult at this stage, as this is still a nascent concept in India, and the market is not very established right now. We too have not quantified the market size yet. But one thing is for sure, there is huge potential here,” points out Anurag Dubey, programme manager, health IT and healthcare delivery practices, South Asia and West Asia, Frost and Sullivan.

Players aim to provide an online repository for personal medical and health records for their customers. “ArogyaDarpan targets customers directly for their record management needs. Internet access and computer know-how is essential for this. Computer literacy is increasing slowly, and is a matter of time. When asked, people from a cross-section of society said if they got a good proposition they would like to have a structured digitised medical database ready to be accessed anytime,” observes Sandeep Tapaswi, CEO, ArogyaDarpan Health Repository Pvt Ltd, who invested close to Rs 45 lakh in his venture.

Though this initiative may be new to Pune, there are other players who strategise differently. “Initiatives like these will reap more if they do not concentrate on patients directly. Patients establish a primary interaction with local or bigger city hospitals. In short, such companies usually target the second tier, that is, healthcare professionals, mid-size and big hospitals, which makes more sense,” adds Anurag Dubey.

Even though the concept is innovative, customers think there should be more to this service. “When it comes to something like mediclaim receipts it is great if someone is preserving them for me, so that I don’t have to run through different files at the year end. Reminders are the next step. Medical tests usually have follow-up tests or prescribed food. If customers were reminded about such things it would be a value-add. And, since there is already a server in place, it should not be difficult,” feels Rimpi Arora, software professional and customer of a health portal.

While some are satisfied with the services provided, others want more. But one challenge that remains is the standardisation of data. While big hospitals benchmark themselves against international standards, smaller players may not invest in that kind of technology.

First Published: Fri, March 13 2009. 00:56 IST