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National Digital Health Mission- A visionary move towards transforming health sector of India

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Pediatrician and Nutritionist

The PM Narendra Modi from ramparts of Red Fort laid down that every citizen will be provided with a universal health ID, which means that their medical records such as test, diagnosis, treatment will be digitalized and saved as a database that can be accessed from anywhere across the country.

PM Modi since 2014 (i.e) ever since being elected as Prime minister and started addressing the nation from the ramp parts of red forts has used these platforms for making any important policy announcement. In 2014, it was Swachh Bharat Mission and last year when the government won with an overwhelming majority, it was sending a message of population control. It is a need for greater awareness as its important in curtailing the population explosion. This Independence Day, it was about the National Digital Health Mission, because the focus on health is very important to India. We have seen the digital India approach under Prime minister Narendra Modi and now the fact he said that every Indian must have a digital health card; which is essentially saying that every aspect of livelihood will be linked to our bank account and that’s why we have Adhaar ID. All that will now be a part of this digital health mission card.

The NDHM comprises six key building blocks or digital systems – HealthID, DigiDoctor, Health Facility Registry, Personal Health Records, e-Pharmacy and telemedicine – that will enable access to timely, safe and affordable healthcare through a ‘citizen-centric’ approach. All of these digital products except e-Pharmacy and telemedicine have been deployed and are up and running. It is completely voluntary, whether you are a doctor or whether you are a patient. Citizens have an option to get a digital health ID. You can get it yourself with self-registration on the mobile phone or the website or can take the help of a doctor or hospital as well. It will be a 14 digit number with your chosen username at the rate of NDHM, which becomes your ID. These ID will also hold your photo, QR code, and to generate it, you need to give your name, gender, DOB, and either your mobile number or Adhaar number. Adhaar is not mandatory so you don’t have to give your number if you don’t feel so. But you will have to if you want to use any government schemes, insurance schemes on the government then they will require the Adhaar number.

The doctors can also volunteer to be what they called ‘Digi doctors’. It’s up to the doctors to decide if they want to volunteer and be part of the digital ecosystems. Why they should do it? If they don’t, they can’t give an e-prescription or do e-diagnosis to give check out summaries on the online format and this becomes the advantage for them if they want to be relevant in part of the digital ecosystem. This itself is going to be massive and here’s why for the first time, we are going to see an initiative to create a database of doctors and more importantly, this repository will only have qualified doctors. This is the first time you could have a repository of doctors and this information would start flowing in from medical colleges and the repository will only have those who are identified by state medical council or the national medical council so this is crucial for the first time that we will be having this database.The healthcare providers, hospital chains, clinics, facilities, and all these people will also have the information.

Why is this crucial? Supposing let’s say you go to a clinic in a hospital near Mumbai and you are diagnosed with some alignment and you also possess the health ID, now you want to have a second opinion on that matter of diagnosis so you are approaching AIIMS in Delhi. The information will be shared in a PDF form after the permission of the patient and in reading the only format, so the doctors here cannot make any change and can only read. This is going to be a very secure method and it cannot tamper easily. Medical health experts welcome this and suggest it’s going to be a major game-changer and going to transform health sector of India

Swapnil Mantri,

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