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New Delhi: The government has created the infrastructure and capacities to conduct 500,000 consultations per day under National Digital Health Mission (NDHM), Union Health Ministry has said.

Government’s ambitious program that was launched by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on August 15 this year, aims to create a centralized mechanism to uniquely identify every participating user. This health ID will store every individual’s medical records. “The activities have already been embarked in selected Union territories under pilot phase. We have created the necessary infrastructure and capacities to take this program forward. We now have the capability to conduct 500,000 consultations in the country per day," said Lav Agarwal, Joint Secretary, Ministry of Health and Family Welfare. “We are using a mission approach and focusing heavily on IT, ensuring that issues like privacy and data integrity are taken care in a world-best manner," he said.

India has also partnered with Netherlands for implementation of NDHM. The alliance is expected to unlock $200 billion in incremental economic value as the digital health sector is fast growing, according to the government. “The digital health sector in India is growing at an 18% Compounded Annualized Growth Rate (CAGR) and is expected to touch billions of dollars in the ongoing year itself," Nilaya Varma, CEO, Primus Partners, a Business and Management Consulting firm. According to Deepak Bagla, Managing Director & CEO, Invest India, the national investment promotion and facilitation agency, under the Department for Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade, Ministry of Commerce and Industry, the country has already received over 58 business proposals over 18 business sectors for digital health.

As on Friday approximately 1.8 lakhs unique health IDs have been created under NDHM, which was initially launched across six states and Union territories on a pilot basis (Chandigarh, Dadra & Nagar Haveli, Ladakh, Andaman & Nicobar, Puducherry and Lakshadweep), according to the National Health Authority (NHA), implementing agency of the program. Health ID under NDHM is a free of cost, voluntary and consent-based application that can be created using Aadhaar or mobile number along with basic information.

This ID allows people to keep a track of their health data and share it only with verified doctors or healthcare providers when needed, after an informed consent, the government claims. There’s also a voluntarily opt-out option, wherein users using it can erase their data anytime. The government believes that the health IDs can be used to create safer and efficient digital health records. Users may also choose to link their health ID with their family members, new born child and keep a track of vaccination, the NHA said. The government has also assured that all necessary data privacy measures will be put in place to safeguard the confidentiality of sensitive health-related information of individuals under the NDHM.

“We finalized the NDHM blueprint late last year and are now embarking on a pilot implementation. We are using a federated architecture model to set and follow global standards in this initiative. We started small and intend to scale things up quickly with the learnings of the pilot," said J Satyanarayana, Chairman, National Digital Health Blueprint Committee.

NDHM has four key features — National Health ID, personal health records, Digi Doctor and health facility registry. At a later stage, it will also include e-pharmacy and telemedicine services, regulatory guidelines for which are being framed.

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