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Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Monday launched the Ayushman Bharat Digital Mission, which aims to provide digital health IDs for all Indian citizens to help hospitals, insurance firms, and citizens access health records electronically when required. Mint explores:

What are digital health IDs?

It is a unique 14-digit health identification number to be created using a person’s mobile number or Aadhaar. The digital health ID will allow users, hospitals and companies to access health records digitally. For example, presenting this ID to a healthcare provider will allow people to digitally receive lab reports, prescriptions, and diagnoses from verified doctors and health service providers. According to the government, the analysis of health data will lead to better planning, budgeting and implementation for states and health programmes, helping save costs and improve treatment.

What information will Health IDs capture?

Healh IDs will have all health-related information of a person, but the sharing of the records will be done with the consent of citizens. This data will contain details of laboratory tests, medical history, doctor visits, prescriptions, and diagnosis. Health workers and hospitals will be able to access the information for proper treatment even if the patient moves to a new city or visits a new doctor. The government claims that citizens will be able to manage their health records and others for whom they are authorized in a private, secure, and confidential environment.

Photo: HT
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Photo: HT

Is the new Health ID mandatory for citizens?

The Health ID will be free of cost and voluntary. However, the government insists that the medical records of private citizens will be stored to ensure security, confidentiality, and privacy of health-related information. If insurance firms, hospitals etc. demand health IDs in the future, it will become mandatory, even if the same is not required by law.

Are there any privacy concerns?

Experts have warned that the government will have to be careful with the implementation of the programme. While the most of them agree that the health IDs are a noble step, the lack of a data protection bill could lead to the misuse of data by private firms and bad actors. Also, interoperability between systems built by different states and the central repository will be important to ensure that the system works as needed. Some also worry about citizens being excluded and denied healthcare due to faults in the system.

What are the other features  of  the  mission?

The other major component of the programme is creating a healthcare professionals’ registry (HPR) and healthcare facilities registry (HFR), allowing easy electronic access to medical professionals and health infrastructure. The HPR will be a comprehensive repository of all healthcare professionals involved in delivering healthcare services across both modern and traditional systems of medicine. The HFR database will have records of all the country’s health facilities.

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