File photo: Union minister for health & family welfare Dr Harsh Vardhan.(PTI)
File photo: Union minister for health & family welfare Dr Harsh Vardhan.(PTI)

Health ministry approves data management policy to digitise healthcare ecosystem

The policy will help in creating digital health records and creating and maintaining registries for healthcare professionals and health facilities.
Hindustan Times, New Delhi | By Rhythma Kaul | Edited by Sparshita Saxena
UPDATED ON DEC 14, 2020 11:07 PM IST

Union health and family welfare minister, Dr Harsh Vardhan, on Monday approved the health data management policy of the National Digital Health Mission (NDHM) that intends to digitise the entire healthcare ecosystem of India by creating digital health records and creating and maintaining registries for healthcare professionals and health facilities. The moves comes in a bid to ensure a smooth interoperable framework for the multiple partners associated with healthcare delivery to individuals in the country.

The National Health Authority (NHA), which is the implementing agency, has also notified the final approved policy.

The NHA had placed the draft of the policy in the public domain between August 20 and September 21, to seek feedback and suggestions from citizens and stakeholders soon after the launch of the NDHM by the Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

After extensive stakeholder consultations and feedback, the policy was further modified based on inputs received from the public.

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“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. We 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 health minister and we can now start the field preparations for the roll-out of the NDHM across India,” said Indu Bhushan, CEO, NHA.

The policy acts as a guidance document across the National Digital Health Ecosystem (NDHE) and sets out the minimum standard for data privacy protection that should be followed across the board to ensure compliance with relevant and applicable laws, rules and regulations.

Participation of an individual in the NDHE will be on a voluntary basis. Those who wish to participate will be issued a unique health ID after verification through a valid government document, including the Aadhaar card.

However, use of Aadhaar card for verification will also be voluntary, and failure or refusal to make use of Aadhaar would not result in the denial of access to any health facility or service under the policy.

The National Digital Health Blueprint, 2019, recommends that a federated architecture be adopted, instead of a centralised architecture, for the management of digital health data to ensure interoperability, technological flexibility and independence across the NDHE.

Government will now work on the guidelines for the implementation of the policy that is likely to be updated from time to time to make it more relevant in the current times.

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