Concerns of digital health mission

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Concerns of digital health mission

  • The Ayushman Bharat Digital Mission (ABDM), launched on 27th September 2021.
  • It aims to give every citizen a unique digital health ID which involves their health records being digitally protected and making health a “holistic and inclusive model”.
  • Under the mission, users can access and link personal records with their unique ID to create a longitudinal health history.
  • The model will stress preventive healthcare and, in case of disease, easy, affordable and accessible treatment.
  • It will not only simplify the processes of hospitals but also increase ease of living.

Working of the Ayushman Bharat Digital Mission (ABDM)

  • In order to be a part of the ABDM, citizens will have to create a unique health ID – a randomly generated 14-digit identification number.
  • The ID will give the user unique identification, authentication and will be a repository of all health records of a person.
  • The ID can also be made by self-registration on the portal, downloading the ABMD Health Records app on one’s mobile or at a participating health facility.
  • The beneficiary will also set up a Personal Health Records (PHR) address for the issue of consent, and for future sharing of health records.
  • According to the Aayush ministry the Digital Ecosystem will enable a host of other facilities like Digital consultation, Consent of patients in letting medical practitioners access their records, and so forth.
  • It’s also geared up to connect the digital health solutions of hospitals across the country with each other.
  • The nationwide implementation of the digital health ID coincides with the third anniversary of the Ayushman Bharat Pradhan Mantri Jan Arogya Yojana (PM-JAY).

Where was the pilot project launched?

  • The pilot project was announced by the Prime Minister during his Independence Day speech last year.
  • So far, over 1 lakh unique health IDs have been created across select Union Territories as part of the pilot project.
  • Now, the mission is looking at rolling out features that will support health ID creation with a PAN card or a driving licence.
  • For those wanting ID creation through mobile or Aadhaar, the beneficiary will be asked to share details of name, year of birth, gender, address, mobile number and Aadhaar.
  • The government has also allowed use of one’s mobile number for registration, if a person doesn’t have an Aadhaar card.

Concerns and Challenges

  • The citizen’s consent is vital for all access.
  • The definition of a consent manager is also not clear enough in the current policy to understand whether the role will be played by a private firm, NGO or government body.
  • A beneficiary’s consent is vital to ensure that information is released.
  • Records are stored under retention policies and can be accessed only with the consent of users.
  • Besides, users can delete and exit the service any time they want.
  • The account could be reactivated after which the user can share the ID at any health facility or share health records over the ABDM network.
  • However, there are concerns that, according to experts, the introduction of a unique health identification card at the national level would be a game changer in monitoring, providing and managing healthcare for all citizens.
  • But experts will have to wait and see the implementation of the project while making sure that the privacy of an individual is maintained at all costs.
  • India has been unable to standardise the coverage and quality of the existing digital cards like
  • One Nation One Ration card,
  • PM-JAY card,
  • Aadhaar card, etc., for accessibility of services and entitlements.
  • The data migration and inter-State transfer are still faced with multiple errors and shortcomings in addition to concerns of data security.
  • The defence of data security by expressed informed consent doesn’t work in a country that is plagued by the acute shortage of healthcare professionals to inform the client fully.
  • With the minuscule spending of 1.3% of the GDP on the healthcare sector, India will be unable to ensure the quality and uniform access to healthcare that it hoped to bring about.
  • The personalised data collected at multiple levels are a “sitting gold mine” for insurance companies, international researchers, and pharma companies.
  • COVID-19 has taught us that the availability of the private sector is not homogeneous and it can’t provide quality service which is charged transparently and is affordable to the common man.
  • India’s public health system has to be strengthened and rejuvenated much more before we bring in the fancy Digital Health Mission.
  • The lack of access to technology, poverty, and lack of understanding of the language in a vast and diverse country like India are problems that need to be looked into.
  • Just like we saw people reluctant to take COVID vaccination, here too people will accept the system only if it’s tried and tested and is known to have some benefit.
  • Meanwhile, for private hospitals wanting to be part of the system, the National Health Authority certifies and empanels the private hospital.
  • It has to be given access, integrate and test its software and get a nod from the NHA,” according to the Health Ministry.
  • It would want all healthcare providers and allied services, including laboratories, to be part of the mission.