The world is undergoing a tremendous digital transformation, much accelerated by the COVID-19 pandemic. Similarly, it contemplates providing a seamless flow of information through a digital healthcare infrastructure. It encompasses digital progress that can transform the way of healthcare outcome delivery.
The recently launched Ayushman Bharat Digital Health Mission by the government is in sync with India’s mission to bring revolutionary digital transformation in the Indian healthcare sector. It aims to digitize health IDs for all Indian citizens which will help hospitals, medical insurance companies, and citizens to access their health records electronically. The digital health ID will work as a repository of health records for an individual covering information about past medical conditions, treatment, and diagnosis.
As per the recent statistics, over one lakh unique Health IDs have been created under National Digital Health Mission (NDHM) as of September 2021. It was launched across six states and union territories on a pilot basis in August 2020, allowing citizens to interact with participating healthcare providers and receive digital lab reports, prescriptions and diagnoses from a verified healthcare service provider. Further, according to the government, using a health ID is the first step towards creating safer and efficient digital health records for a citizen and their family.
Efficiency and cost-effectiveness
In a traditional healthcare scenario, most of the healthcare service providers’ time goes into managing tedious manual jobs such as writing a prescription, maintaining paperwork, and information sharing with patients. With unique Health IDs, users will be able to practice efficiency with reduced time and cost in maintaining a patient’s health records. It will make it easy for medical staff to collate the charts of a patient’s health condition while reducing the wastage of time that goes into locating and processing a patient’s information. Apart from this, automated capabilities of digital Health IDs will also reduce the chances of errors in recording patient data, updating lab reports, prescriptions, etc.
Increased patient care
Digital Health IDs are implemented with the sole purpose to make healthcare more convenient for providers and patients. Quick access to a patient's medical records can help doctors to provide more effective treatment, especially if the patient is remotely located. Furthermore, easy access to patient’s medical information provides enhanced decision support to healthcare practitioners through comprehensive analysis, clinical alerts, and reminders.
On the other hand, digital health records make it convenient for patients to access healthcare services. The patient no longer will have to fill up forms at each medical center or hospital visit. Furthermore, there will be a centralized platform for accessing the prescriptions and an easy way to share them with the pharmacy without any interpretation error or chances of misplacement.
Improved diagnosis and outcomes
Having access to accurate information on the patient’s medical records is extremely critical for a doctor. With access to digital health records, doctors will have complete information about the patient’s medical condition and thus, will be able to provide better care. According to the national survey of doctors – 75% of providers reported that electronic health records allow them to deliver better care to patients while 88% find electronic health records produce clinical benefits for the practice.
Access to electronic health records not only provides accurate information but also keeps the doctor updated about the patient’s ongoing medications and allergies resulting in better decision-making for the doctor. For instance, if a patient is already on a certain medication, the digital record will automatically check for problems that can occur due to any new medication and alert the doctors about potential conflicts and risks.
Having a unique Health ID is anticipated to create efficient practices in the healthcare system. However, it has a privacy and consent framework around it. An imperative is to understand the NDHM’s detailed framework that can meet potential security risks. Though, the healthcare records are accessible only with the consent of the patient. The government needs to look into its proper execution to make it succeed on a national level.
(Gaurav Gupta is Co-Founder, Navia Life Care)