The finance minister in the budget speech said that India would digitise the country’s health care delivery system by building registries of health providers and facilities, providing unique health identity to all residents, preparing a consent framework and ensuring universal access to health care.
NATIONAL DIGITAL HEALTH ECOSYSTEM
- Ayushman Bharat Digital Mission Digital Mission:The Ayushman Bharat digital mission announced by the Prime Minister last year would be rolled out this year. Also an open platform for the national Digital health ecosystem would be placed this year.
- Enhance ease of living:The national Digital health ecosystem would significantly enhance ease of living for citizens and create healthier Indians leveraging the power of technology.
- Affordable & adequate healthcare:It would ensure that all segments of society are able to access affordable and adequate healthcare in a seamless and efficient manner. Such an ecosystem can potentially make universal healthcare a reality for India.
- Implementation agency:The national health authority, supervising the running of Ayushmann Bharat Pradhan Mantri Jan Arogya Yojna, the government’s health insurance scheme, is tasked with implementing the digital mission.
- The registration of all government medical facilities and doctors was started last year by the health Ministry, a process that involves the digitisation of their information including the health records.
- The health facilities to be registered under mission include government clinics, laboratories, pharmacies and radiology centres.
- Web portal has also been created for the purpose of registration of professionals and facilities under different categories that people can access.
- E-Health is an ever evolving field at the juncture of medicine, public health, business and modern technology.
- It can be described as the delivery of healthcare services using electronic information and communication technologies.
- The services are provided in a setting where healthcare providers and patients are not directly in contact and interaction is mediated through electronic means.
- It consist of different electronic health data exchange such as:
- Telemedicine: it is also referred to as telehealth, it can be described as the remote delivery of healthcare services including medical examination and consultation. It provides healthcare providers the opportunity to evaluate and treat patients without being physically present.
- mHealth (Mobile health): mHealth Refers to the practice of medicine and welfare using mobile smart services.
- Electronic Health Records (EHR): EHR is the systemised collection of patient history stored electronically that can be accessed across multiple formats.
- The World health Organisation defines three key areas of e-health as follows:
- Delivery of health information and records for both professionals as well as consumers.
- Using the power of information technology and e-commerce platforms to improve the public health infrastructure.
- Use of e-commerce and a business practises in health management systems.
- After the advent of COVID-19 pandemic across the world, e-health services have become increasingly useful.
- The onslaught of pandemic brought upon us an increased need for healthcare services in times when the entire world was in lock down.
- Many governments across the world have supported the critical imperative of enabling private companies to produce innovative tools enabling authorities to identify suspected patients and carriers.
ADVANTAGES OF DIGITAL HEALTH
- Efficiency: The usage of modern technology within healthcare enables professionals to reduce inefficiency, save time and accurately diagnose and treat diseases.
- Reduction in cost: more efficient treatments have led to reduction in cost. One potential way is by dodging duplicative assessment to improve communication between healthcare providers and electronic medical records.
- Empowerment: e-health services can enable both consumers and healthcare providers to feel more empowered by making available the knowledge base of medical data and health records over the internet.
- Better relations: e-health services can enable better relations between the patient and experts since it provides clear and easier channels of communication.
- Equity: e-Health is a great concept for reducing the gap between the haves and have nots.
- It enables equitable healthcare access irrespective of age, race, gender, ethnic city, geography etc.
- Digital health also enables access to better healthcare facilities to remote locations.
- Education: e-Health is beneficial for educating healthcare professionals about medical advancements. The services can also be beneficial for consumers to educate themselves about personalized preventive healthcare.
- Faster decision-making: with the advent of decision-making software and increased automation, decision-making in medical situations have become much faster and more efficient.
DIGITISATION OF PUBLIC HEALTH SERVICES
- There is a greater emphasis on digitisation of public health services as the world begins to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic.
- It is anticipated that the space has become a booming industry for investors with great return on investment and massive potential for social welfare.
- Experts have suggested a massive increase in the global digital health or e-health market both from the demand and supply side.
- Smartphones: with an increasing number of smartphone consumers, these devices can be used effectively to operate digital technology to support healthcare services, to address the growing health concerns and support the use of M-health services.
- Big data: big data is expected to be a game changer in the space by providing a low rate of medication errors.
- Virtual reality: virtual reality has already started making its mark in digital health by providing support in treating anxiety, post-traumatic stress and stroke. It is stated to play a major role in complicated surgeries as well.
- Wearables: in the age of smart watches, fitness bands, sugar monitors etc, variables are playing an important role in making patients aware of the likelihood of a health emergency. With bearable striking heart rate, exercise levels, sleep quality etc they can play a major role in providing up-to-date monitoring of high-risk patients.
- Artificial intelligence: The power of artificial intelligence can be seen in areas like precision medicine, medical imaging, drug discovery and genomics. Additionally, the use of chat boards and virtual assistants shall see a sharp increase in times to come.
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