The government has proposed to create a UID-like mission and integrate the data with Aadhar for generation of electronic health records, Neena Pahuja, director general, Education and Research Network (ERNET) India, said during a panel discussion at the Express Technology Sabha. The importance lies in unification of the database to drive the health department better along with improved skill services, she said.
The panel discussion on the theme ‘ICT for better delivery of healthcare services’ was attended by LV Subramanyam, principal secretary, health, medical and family welfare department, Andhra Pradesh; Suresh Chanda, principal secretary, health and family welfare department, Telangana; Pahuja of ERNET India; Ravi Kant Gupta, director, National Health Mission, Haryana, and Shekhar Agarwal, senior vice-president, Vodafone India. The session was moderated by Darlington Jose Hector, resident editor, south, The Financial Express.
The panelists felt that information and communication technologies (ICT) should be used to pick up early signals of diseases and use it at far-flung areas through a hub and spoke model. eHealth is the buzzword for delivery of improved healthcare systems in the country. eHealth is the use of ICT for treating patients, conducting research, educating the health workforce, tracking diseases and monitoring public health.
The discussion emphasised on the government’s proposed health policy. The Union government has stressed on tele-medicine, tele-education and training for medical professionals, which are the priority areas to bring change across the healthcare sector.
The potential and opportunities are huge and there is a need to cultivate demand for IT-based medical services in the country, the panelists felt.
Citing a pilot project in Anantapur, LV Subramanyam said that the Andhra Pradesh government is setting up diagnostic facility to provide services and generate electronic health records.
Chanda highlighted that the governments are working to provide healthcare to every doorstep. Chanda said the focus should be on services and there is a need to have database generation and usage for effective healthcare system.
Gupta deliberated that though there has been awareness on IT in healthcare, the government has not groomed medical professionals on the usage of ICT. “It is necessary to use the data for various disease patterns and there is no meaning in mere collection of data,” he said. He explained maternal infant death reporting system and said a majority of medical professionals are ill-equipped to handle data and awareness has to be created to use the data for decision making.
One important development in emerging healthcare delivery is the usage of mobile phones. Since communication is the biggest challenge in healthcare delivery, automation gets importance.
Mhealth is part of mgovernance, Agarwal of Vodafone India said. The mHealth field has emerged as a sub-segment of eHealth, the use of ICT, such as computers, mobile phones, communications satellite, patient monitors, etc, for health services and information. mHealth applications include the use of mobile devices in collecting community and clinical health data, delivery of healthcare information to practitioners, researchers and patients and real-time monitoring of patient vital signs.