IASbhai Daily Editorial Hunt | 4th Sep 2020
“All our dreams can come true, if we have the courage to pursue them.” – Walt Disney.
EDITORIAL HUNT #124 :“Digitisation 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
Mind the gaps in India’s health care digital push
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
Is there a serious problem with the way patient-related information is managed today? Discuss the role of PHC’s in data collection -(GS 3)
- Issues With Data
- Possible Outcomes
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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’.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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