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How digital tech and AI are revolutionising primary health care in India

Digital innovations are transforming not only clinical applications, but also streamlining administrative processes making the entire health care experience more patient-centric

ayushman bharat

The journey from Digitalised Health and Wellness Centres (DHWC) to Comprehensive Primary Healthcare (CPHC) exemplifies India's commitment to changing primary care.

Dr Rakesh Kumar
Dr Rakesh Kumar


The integration of digital technologies and Artificial Intelligence (AI) is revolutionising India’s public health landscape particularly primary health care. A key driver of this transformation lies in the seamless integration of cutting-edge digital technologies and AI in public health. From advanced image recognition to robust predictive analytics, AI empowers healthcare providers to make well-informed decisions. As a result, we’re witnessing earlier disease detection, more precise treatments, and improved patient outcomes. Our unwavering commitment is to deliver innovative, comprehensive primary healthcare solutions, recognising that digital innovation is crucial for fostering a healthier India.

The power of AI and digital solutions
Digital innovations are transforming not only clinical applications, but also streamlining administrative processes making the entire health care experience more patient-centric. Mobile health apps and the government's eSanjeevani - National Telemedicine Service have revolutionised access to health care, especially in remote areas. Patients can now receive consultations and diagnostics without travelling long distances, significantly reducing barriers to care. Additionally, wearable devices and mobile health apps empower patients to actively manage their health. They can monitor vital signs, track treatment adherence, and focus on overall wellness. These tools promote preventive healthcare and also foster closer patient-provider relationships, encouraging individuals to take charge of their health.

The journey from Digitalised Health and Wellness Centres (DHWC) to Comprehensive Primary Healthcare (CPHC) exemplifies India's commitment to changing primary care. Initiated by WISH in 2017, DHWC introduced a '3 Tab model' (Nurse, Doctor, Pharmacist) across 1,000 centres in five states and two cities. Despite initial success, the model encountered challenges stemming from the lack of National Digital Health Blueprint (NDHB) standards, Ayushman Bharat Digital Mission (ABDM) building blocks, and difficulties in adapting to rapid technological shifts, especially evident during the Coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic.

To address these issues, the Smart DHWC was developed, integrating NDHB standards, ABDM building blocks, AI capabilities, and a robust clinical knowledge base. This enhanced model prioritised preventive health measures, streamlined data management, and improved patient experiences through technologically advanced health centres.

Now, aligned with priorities of the government i.e. Comprehensive Primary Health Care through Health and Wellness Centres (Ayushman Arogya Mandirs), we have developed an Ayushman Bharat Digital Mission (ABDM) compliant 'CPHC platform' to enable DHWCs. The CPHC platform is declared in opensource as Digital Public Good (DPG). This platform has two digital components-application for patients and, the Electronic Health Records (EHR) application at the clinics for registration, entry of health vitals, doctor consultation, lab testing, pharmacy and referrals. The CPHC platform has the capability of tagging/ tracking of patients using RFID tags and monitoring of vitals using IoT wearables. Advance healthcare plug-ins (Point of Care Devices) are integrated into the EHR application for auto-populating health vitals.

A pilot implementation of CPHC platform - eSwasthya Dham is being done for the Uttarakhand government. The platform enables monitoring of pilgrims undertaking pilgrimages (Chardham Yatra) in the state of Uttarakhand. It unfolds in three key stages, starting with at-home registration and health assessments, progressing to base location preparations and continuous monitoring at checkpoints throughout the journey. Seamlessly integrated with the Char Dham Registration Portal, the eSwasthya Dham platform allows pilgrims to conveniently access their medical records using their ABHA ID, ensuring easy retrieval of vital health information.

Additionally, an AI chatbot has also been developed as a plug-in to eSwasthya Dham to assist the paramedics in dealing with different medical conditions exhibited by the pilgrims. It has the Non-Cloud Branch —successfully deployed during the CharDham Yatra and the Cloud Branch —designed for statewide implementation, adaptable to any state. The other use cases encompass NCD management, immunisation and high-risk pregnancy care, highlighting the versatility and impact of the CPHC initiative.

By embracing digital and AI solutions, we have the opportunity to redefine what's possible in the primary healthcare space. As we continue this transformative journey, we remain steadfast in our commitment to using technology to empower an innovation-driven healthcare ecosystem and making high-quality healthcare services available and affordable to all.

Dr. Rakesh Kumar (Formerly IAS), CEO, WISH. 

Disclaimer: These are personal views of the writer. They do not necessarily reflect the opinion of www.business-standard.com or the Business Standard newspaper

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First Published: Jul 11 2024 | 10:14 AM IST

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