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Centre approves health data management policy of NDHM

A medical worker takes care of a patient suffering from the coronavirus disease (Covid-19), at the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) of the Yatharth Hospital in Noida (REUTERS)Premium
A medical worker takes care of a patient suffering from the coronavirus disease (Covid-19), at the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) of the Yatharth Hospital in Noida (REUTERS)

  • The policy that was approved by Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan acts as a guidance document across the National Digital Health Ecosystem
  • The draft of the policy was placed on the website by National Health Authority (NHA) from 20th August to 21st September to seek feedback and suggestions

NEW DELHI : Centre on Monday approved the health data management policy of the National Digital Health Mission (NDHM) that sets out the minimum standard for data privacy protection that should be followed across the board in order to ensure compliance with relevant and applicable laws, rules and regulations.

The policy that was approved by Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan acts as a guidance document across the National Digital Health Ecosystem (NDHE). The government said that this policy is to be read along with, and not in contradiction to, any applicable law, or any instrument having the effect of any law together with the Blueprint, the information security policy, the data retention and archival policy and any other policy which may be issued for the implementation of the NDHM.

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“This policy is not to be interpreted or construed as giving any entity or individual rights which are greater than those that such entity or individual would be entitled to under applicable laws," the government said in a statement.

The draft of the policy was placed on the website by National Health Authority (NHA) from 20th August to 21st September to seek feedback and suggestions from citizens and stakeholders soon after the launch of NDHM by the Prime Minister. After extensive stakeholder consultations and feedback, the policy was given further shape by incorporating the inputs from the public.

“After over a month of soliciting feedback from various stakeholders and the general public, we received 910 comments and suggestions via 6,983 emails and through the website. Many of these inputs and suggestions were found to be quite pertinent and deserving more attention," Dr Indu Bhushan, CEO, National Health Authority. NHA is the apex government agency responsible for the design, roll-out, implementation and management of Ayushman Bharat-Pradhan Mantri Jan Arogya Yojana (AB PM-JAY) and the National Digital Health Mission across the country.

“We have incorporated them to revise the draft policy and sent it to the Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare for final review and approval. We are happy that the policy has been approved by the Hon’ble Health Minister and we can now start the field preparations for the roll-out of NDHM across India," he said.

Data collected across the National Digital Health Ecosystem (NDHE) will be stored in at the central level, the state or Union Territory level and at the health facility level, by adopting the principle of minimality at each point, according to the document. The provisions of this policy shall apply to the entities involved in the NDHM and those who are a part of the NDHE, that includes all entities and individuals who have been issued an ID under this policy, healthcare professionals, governing bodies of the health ministry, the NHA, relevant professional bodies and regulators.

It would also apply to any healthcare provider who collects, stores and transmits health data in electronic form, insurers, charitable institutions, pharmaceuticals and all individuals, teams, entities who collect or process personal or sensitive data of any individual as part of the NDHE. The NHA had said that the NDHM will significantly improve the efficiency, effectiveness, and transparency of health services in India.

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