How India’s National Digital Health Mission Is Set To Revolutionize Healthcare – Forbes

By | August 17, 2020

On Saturday, on the occasion of the 74th anniversary of his country’s independence, India’s Prime Minister, Narendra Modi, announced the National Digital Health Mission, giving every Indian citizen a unique health ID, digitized health records, as well as a registry of doctors and health facilities.

The initiative aims to provide efficiency, accessibility, inclusiveness, security and save time and money in meeting the healthcare needs of a country of 1.38 billion people. The digitization of the population’s health information into a single database is a fundamental step toward improving public health delivery, but is also a very important milestone for issues such as the treatment of pandemics, and of course, everything related to biomedical research. In 2018, Modi’s government launched the Ayushman Bharat Yojana, a program aimed at providing free medical assistance to the 40% of the population with low income.

Of course, the challenge in developing such a system is data security. The deployment of the country’s national identification number and means of payment, Aadhaar, the largest project of its kind in the world, quickly hit problems of this kind, and which, if they occurred with health data, usually subject to strict privacy controls, could be a major headache for the government.

India, a country where this kind of issue could have huge consequences, seems poised to become the world’s largest laboratory for privacy issues. In the case of healthcare, this could be combined with trends such as those pointed out by the Singaporean government regarding the use of wearables as real time health monitors, with the idea of providing citizens with a truly proactive system and possible early diagnosis of a good number of medical conditions. Such a system would result not only in a reduction in the suffering caused by late responses to many diseases, but also in lower treatment costs.

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Healthcare is set to undergo a revolution, and digitalization will contribute most to this. The Indian experiment could be a good way to identify the issues involved in mass rollouts of digital initiatives. Public healthcare officials all over the world should be monitoring India closely.

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