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FUTURE OF INDIA’S DIGITAL HEALTH


The adoption of digital health is a global phenomenon as it enabled medical facilities when there was limited access due to the pandemic. Digitalization has become the new norm for the super economy and entrepreneurs are focusing on digitising everything possible, healthcare being extremely important these days.

On the eve of India’s 75th Independence Day, Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced the launch of “Ayushman Bharat Digital Mission'', which came into action from 27th September 2021. The mission aims to assist the digital healthcare infrastructure of the country and focuses on providing citizens better access to healthcare services in the country. This will not only ensure smooth working of business for doctors, hospitals and healthcare service providers but also create a seamless online platform that will enable all of us to connect and use the information available within the digital health ecosystem. Key features of this mission include online health registrations, a unique health ID or Aadhaar, interoperability, and automated processes for claim settlement issues along with digital transactions.

The digitalisation in healthcare has proved its importance at the much needed time when the world was down with coronavirus. India was one of the first nations to develop a website which would allow citizens to get vaccinated just by registering themselves on the portal of COWIN. Since it was difficult for a country with 1.3 billion people to provide vaccination concerning the database, the past practices of maintaining records through Aadhar Card came to the rescue. The portal offered people to choose from the available vaccines and book the slots. Till 7th January 2022, India has administered 150 cr+ vaccines and Digital infrastructure supporting healthcare has proven to be of great help. New health technologies like AI, Telemedicine, etc. are changing the healthcare systems. Pandemic brought both opportunity and need for e-pharma and teleconsultation spaces. India being a country which supports startups, entrepreneurs have been successful in creating an ecosystem of startups which have turned into unicorns like Pharmeasy. Many of the startups like Mfine and Practo have offered the facilities of appointments and consultation from different doctors in the online mode especially when it was needed at the time of the covid pandemic. Even the biggest players in the segment like Apollo have worked on creating their own services of delivering medicines from their pharmacies in a few minutes. Other digital platforms like MyGov Saathi and Aarogya Setu have enabled supporting information circulation, contact tracing and vaccination efforts. Thus, digital infrastructure has paved the way for accessibility for every segment of population.


CHALLENGES

Patients can benefit from the digital healthcare system in diverse ways like disease prevention, management of chronic diseases, rebate in treatment and therapy costs. However, for healthcare systems to see success in digital health interventions, it requires a lot of filtration-

●A new doctor will have to build a lot of trust to actually ask his/her patients to share their health records.

●India still has a very high number of technological illiteracy. As of now Health ID is voluntary, and not compulsory. Knowledge needs to be spread among the public, especially in the rural areas so that they can make informed decisions.

●This is something very important i.e Data protection, India still does not have rigid enough rules for data privacy. Particularly talking about this scheme, as of now it is said that there is going to be an intermediary between the citizens and government, not many people will be comfortable sharing their data to third parties knowing that their privacy may suffer.


CONCLUSION

Digital health has a lot of potential if given the right direction. It needs to deliver not just affordable but user-friendly healthcare solutions to a growing and aging population. Since this segment of the populace is relatively slow to adapt to new technologies, broad-reaching educational initiatives and a rigid framework can help achieve India’s goals relatively faster. However, the Indian government has been very supportive with policies to stimulate investment and adoption of a digital health ecosystem and also acknowledging the challenges of data usage, data storage, privacy and informed consent.


By:-

Vansh Jain, Aditi, Gurbani

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