IASbhai Daily Editorial Hunt | 4th Sep 2020

“All our dreams can come true, if we have the courage to pursue them.” – Walt Disney.

Dear Aspirants
IASbhai Editorial Hunt is an initiative to dilute major Editorials of leading Newspapers in India which are most relevant to UPSC preparation –‘THE HINDU, LIVEMINT , INDIAN EXPRESS’ and help millions of readers who find difficulty in answer writing and making notes everyday. Here we choose two editorials on daily basis and analyse them with respect to UPSC MAINS 2020.

EDITORIAL HUNT #124 :“Digitisation of Health-care in India | UPSC

Digitisation of Health-care in India UPSCDigitisation of Health-care in India UPSC

P. Joy Oommen and Dr. K.R. Antony

P. Joy Oommen is a retired civil servant who served as Chief Secretary to the Government of Chhattisgarh.

Dr. K.R. Antony is a pediatrician and a public health professional who served UNICEF and the State Health Resource Centre, Chhattisgarh

      HEADLINES:

Mind the gaps in India’s health care digital push

      CENTRAL THEME:

While the digitisation of health-care data could help, what many Indians face are unaddressed issues in the health sector

SYLLABUS COVERED: GS 2 : 3 : PHC : Health

      MAINS QUESTION:

      LEARNING: 

  • NHDM
  • Issues With Data
  • Possible Outcomes

      INTRODUCTION: 

The recent launch of National Digital Health Mission (NDHM) during an unprecedented novel coronavirus pandemic crisis, caught everyone’s attention.

  • MAGICAL PHRASE : ‘Going Digital’ has no doubt been a magic phrase that has often been repeated in multiple contexts in the country.
  • FEEDBACK TIME : One week is insufficient time on the draft for discussions among the health-care sector and other members of civil society for any meaningful feedback.

      BODY: 

SOME PROGRESS

  • CAPTURING DATA : Digitizing could help patients, the doctors who attend to them and the health-care facilities where they seek treatment.
  • STRONG LINKS : National Health Mission through the IT network connected to most public health centres even in tribal areas.
  • DATA DISCREPANCY : Personal health data are generated by name till the primary health centre -level but not transmitted to higher levels except aggregated numerical data.

All larger health facilities generate and store computerised patient data also for planning treatment, procurement of medicines and consumables.

  • DIAGNOSTICS : Ironically, many tertiary hospitals and medical colleges care little for diagnostic reports and prescriptions of previous doctors.
  • PORTABILITY ISSUES : Currently, for pan-India portability there is no card which acts as medical history at any centralised platform.

THE CONTOURS

  • PROPOSED ‘ARCHITECTURE’ : An IT consulting firm has been engaged to build a National Health Stack and a registry of over eight lakh doctors, 10 lakh pharmacists and over 60,000 hospitals is under preparation.
  • THE STACK : At a later stage, online pharmacies, insurance companies and other stakeholders will be added to the ‘Stack’.
  • STRATEGY DOCUMENT : The draft states upfront that ‘Your data is safe and confidential and would be stored only locally’.

Among the many benefits listed are that it ‘would help patients save the burden of carrying medical reports to a specialist or other hospitals’.

  • TELE-MEDICINE : One can also avail Telemedicine support from renowned specialists if required .
  • HANDS FREE : Overall, the scheme appears to promise an end-to-end, hands-free Digital experience.
  • FAST PROCESS : The scheme also intends to replace existing data generation systems with a new homogenised software for all machines in the health sector .

EXTENSIVE COSTS, DILEMMAS

  • CUSTOMIZED DATA : NDHM is merely ensuring customization of a new software and changes in current practices of data maintenance.
  • COST FACTOR : However, it would become inevitable for all institutions to upgrade their hardware too apart from considerable costs in customisation and transfer of existing data.
  • EXISTING SETUP : Some larger hospitals with sophisticated software systems would be in a dilemma as to whether they need to scrap them or run parallel software provided by the NDHM.
  • AGE OLD PRACTICES : Among independent practitioners in allopathic especially in rural areas, there is no practice of even storing patient data on computers.

It is largely based on mutual trust and personal memory.

      IASbhai Windup: 

DATA LEAKAGE

  • CONSENT MEANING : Informed consent in the scheme may mean nothing to a patient or relatives even in normal times let alone in a time of medical emergency.

SAFETY : Informed consent is too much of a luxury for the vulnerable and a poor defence against data leakage.

  • DATA GAPS : Public health practitioners at the grass-root level will be in dilemma to switch different aspects of digitization .
  • THE CURE : Because of its doubtful benefits to patients or because of worries regarding data leakage,perhaps they need to discover that data is the only cure, for all our ills.
       SOURCES:   THE HINDU EDITORIAL | Digitisation of Health-care in India | UPSC

 

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