In its efforts to move towards complete digital healthcare systems, the Government is mooting to use Aadhaar-based identification of patients for maintaining health records. The idea is a part of the National Digital Health Blueprint prepared by a committee constituted by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare to create an implementation framework for the National Health Stack (NHS) proposed by NITI Aayog last year.
The blueprint released on Monday by Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan proposes to set up a National Digital Health Mission, Personal Health Identifier (PHI), Health Master Directories and Registries. “The uniqueness in identification of persons (citizens) required as an essential attribute of PHI is sought to be achieved through a combination of Aadhaar-based identification or authentication for schemes notified under Section 7 of the Aadhaar Act, and through other specified types of identifiers in respect of the rest," the blueprint report said.
“However, the Committee has recommended that the design of the PHI may be finalized by the union health ministry, in consultation with Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY) and Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) duly taking into consideration the regulatory, technological and operational aspects. PHI in tandem with “Health Locker" will facilitate the creation and maintenance of “Personal Health Records"," it said.
As per Section 7 of the Aadhaar (Targeted Delivery of Financial and Other Subsidies, Benefits and Services) Act, 2016, any individual who is desirous of availing themselves of any subsidy, benefit or service for which the expenditure is incurred from the Consolidated Fund of India, shall be required to furnish proof of possession of Aadhaar number or undergo Aadhaar-based authentication. In case the individual does not have Aadhaar, he/she shall make an application for enrolment and the individual shall be offered alternate and viable means of identification for delivery of the subsidy, benefit or service.
The National Digital Health Blueprint envisages omni-channel access and delivery by a combination of web (India Health Portal), mobile (MyHealth App) and call centres besides social media platforms. It considers command, control and communication centre enable real-time monitoring and real-time interventions. Given the significant spread of smart phones and the prospects of its further growth, the Blueprint emphasizes the ‘Mobile First’ principle for majority of stakeholder-facing services.
“The need of the hour is to create an ecosystem which can integrate the existing health information systems and show a clear path for upcoming programmes for ensuring interoperability of Electronic Health Record (EHR). Ayushman Bharat Yojana is operational on a robust Information Technology (IT) Platform. Other IT enabled schemes like Reproductive Child Healthcare, NIKSHAY etc. are also benefitting the patients at right time with right service delivery," said Harsh Vardhan union health minister.
“There is a need to ensure convergence across these IT systems to monitor and provide health services in a robust and efficient manner. Ministry of Health has accordingly initiated efforts in the direction of a comprehensive, nationwide integrated e-Health system under National Digital Health Blueprint," he said.