The government has proposed mapping health data of citizens and building a National Digital Health Mission (NDHM) on the lines of the Aadhaar database, and set up ‘digital health’ as public infrastructure.
In a detailed National Digital Health Blueprint, which is open for comments until August 4, the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare (MoHFW) has laid out standards, framework, and data analytics principles for a technology-based infrastructure.
Authored under the chairmanship of the ex-Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) chairman J Satyanarayana, the blueprint proposes that the NDHM be a hybrid of the goods and services tax network, UIDAI (the agency that administers Aadhaar), and the National Payments Corporation of India, given that health is a state subject, and to incorporate private sector, including service providers and insurance.
The NDHM has proposed to provide the technology platform for collection of core health data from the providers and patients and interoperability of health care data through a unique identifier called the Unique Health Identifier.
Other components include The Health Cloud, on the lines of the government community cloud of the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology, a Health Locker that will serve as a personal health record repository with consent, and health analytics.
Another component is the geographic information system or visualisation services that could be used to map the nearest hospital with a particular specialty, or map the occurrence of a disease in a geographic area and so on to help in regional planning and monitoring of health services.
“For the NDHM to be successful, it will be important to undertake outreach activities with public and private sector players. The NDHM will have to co-opt market players like medtech companies, non-governmental organisations, foundations working in health space as they build the public utilities in the form of registries, personal health record, health ID, and health information exchange, etc,” the blueprint proposes.
The blueprint has proposed a ‘consent manager’ mechanism, so that individuals can control the data they would like to be collated or used for other purposes.
The idea of explicit consent is part of several other government proposals, including the soon-to-be tabled in Parliament Data Protection Bill and Reserve Bank of India’s guidelines for account aggregators.
The blueprint has said that this digital framework will be designed keeping in mind smartphones as the end device being used by citizens.
It also has detailed proposals for setting up state and national-level repositories of health data and methods of collecting data and so on.
Other members of the committee set up in November last year to propose the blueprint include Dr Manoj Singh, professor, All India Institute of Medical Sciences, Neeta Verma, director general of National Informatics Centre, Alok Kumar, advisor (health), NITI Aayog and other members of the MoHFW