With India launching its most ambitious healthcare scheme ever in the form of Ayushman Bharat or Pradhan Mantri Jan Arogya Yojana (PMJAY), there is both excitement and apprehension over its future.
Devendra Kumar Punia
With India launching its most ambitious healthcare scheme ever in the form of Ayushman Bharat or Pradhan Mantri Jan Arogya Yojana (PMJAY), there is both excitement and apprehension over its future. As our country works towards achieving a uniform and standardised health coverage system, key to its success is building a strong capability in digital health. Digital health is essentially a paradigm that converges healthcare delivery with digital tools in a way that empowers us to better track, manage, and improve our health so that we are able to lead better and more productive lives.
National Health Stack
National Health Stack (NHS) envisages providing the shared digital infrastructure to address these challenges. NHS is being built upon the India Stack which makes use of Jan Dhan, Aadhaar and Mobile. The India Stack has proved useful in developing a foolproof and fraud-proof system of accessing relevant information and checking identities in banking, telecom and other government services delivery.
Why digital infrastructure?
A nationwide reach with such massive coverage would need a truly digital, paperless and cashless service delivery with an IT backbone that converges disparate systems and scattered data to make the healthcare experience hassle-free while bringing down costs of health protection.
Availability of reliable healthcare data is one of the most important requisites for health insurance providers to assess the healthcare scenario of a region, the dominant diseases and risks. Unfortunately, statistics on health are highly unreliable in India with most experts agreeing that disease prevalence is significantly under-reported, especially among poorer populations.
It is common knowledge that shortage of doctors and other medical staff is a critical problem that bedevils India’s healthcare sector. It will require extensive investments and efforts in not only creating the physical infrastructure but also the workforce. Digital health tools are critical in realising this goal. Telemedicine and digital health applications are to cover up the shortage of human resource.
Big Data analyses for better healthcare outcomes
Availability of clinical data on health has been a major problem for medical researchers in India. Digitisation of medical records paves the way for creation of a huge database of disease related statistics which can be utilised for medical research and analysis. With low-cost access to rich longitudinal data on large populations for epidemiologic research, researchers can use data analytic techniques and predictive analyses to arrive at solutions to public health problems and evolve epidemiologic theory. The large sample sizes and diverse information available in a large database can be very useful for population health research and for overall benefit of public health.
The writer is CIO, Paras Healthcare