What is the National Health ID, announced by PM Narendra Modi?

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A couple of days ago I was aghast when I read a tweet from Shehla Rashid about National health ID and the plans that are laid out by the GoI in its grand scheme to bring affordable medical services to all its citizens.

The Tweet was ill informed and in a spurt of grabbing attention and some likes, but this coming from an individual who has a Computer Engg degree, has an M.A,  Mphil and a PhD on ‘How algorithm based decision-making affets policy making’ is very concerning and immature.

Yes you read it right, computer science degree and a PhD on algorithm behaviour. She has an outreach of 700,000+ followers on Twitter, imagine an educated person like her fear mongering and misguiding people.

The irony is that she is not aware that this initiative is only on the consent of the user and there is no other way around it and yet that tweet.

Anyway coming back to the topic in contention National Health ID, this is a program envisaged in 2018 as part of the Niti Aayog proposal to centralise and link all patients/users of the National Health Stack. Under this program govt plans to create a network of various healthcare providers like Hospitals, laboratories, insurance companies and other healthcare firms along with the users of govt health schemes.

The Govt aims to create an identification card through which all the patients/ users who will be identified, authenticated by Health providers and the ID also gives these providers access to the health records and related information of the users.

A centralised data center of sorts will work on the mountains of data of health records of these patients, thus paving way to a more coordinated effort in bringing forth a significantly increased quality of health care, more robust and transparent medical services and more importantly devise systems for early prevention and cure of deadly diseases.

Imagine such a robust system which can integrate with Ayushman Bharat- Pradhan Mantri Jan Arogya Yojana”(AB-PMJAY), Aam Aadmi Bima Yojana and Central Government Health Scheme and many such state and central health schemes.

With emerging trends in technology, medical firms and Governments have started to implement BigData onto the information they collect through various venues which provide health care services. The possibilities that lie ahead are enormous and the good it can do to the industry and the patients is unfathomable.

Below is a glimpse of what such a system can do to our HealthCare services, how it can transform the entire healthcare industry and revolutionise how we perceive health and healthcare.

  1. We all have at some point have gone through the pain of admitting our loved ones in an hospital and the hassle of submitting relevant documents and health insurance details, imagine if there was a system like Health ID
    1. You just have to carry the one card
    1. All health records will be available on the cloud and accessible to the hospital.
    1. Can potentially save lives during emergencies by not missing out in furnishing crucial medical reports or any such details.
    1. From claiming insurance to everything being tracked and applied through the card.
    1. A complete record of previous hospitalisation records and treatments given, ensuring diligence and carefulness by the hospitals in treating the patient given these records are available for review.
  2. A system that can predict or help prevent a health hazard, like a heart stroke or any such health condition by tracking the health and treatment history of the patient recorded through his Health ID.
  3. Most of us use a health tracking system in some form, like a health app on your smart phone, or heartbeat monitoring watches or bluetooth enabled devices, imagine a centralised system that can collate all this data and help during diagniosis, treatment or while curing an individual. There are score of such instances where patients are saved using such data available on just the users watch (https://bit.ly/38usYl5).
  4. There are Bluetooth enabled inhalers which track the number of times a patient uses the inhaler and alerts of a possible asthma attack to respective medical center.
  5. Imagine a connected glucose monitoring devices and insulin pens, for a country where one in six people have diabetes, just think about the lives that can be saved from Hypoglycemia, heart strokes and other dangerous attacks.
  6. Just like IoT we also have IoMT (Internet of Medical Things) where devices like EKG, ECG, CGM etc. are connected to the internet and are monitored at a central place for effective dispensing of affordable and effective medication.

There are several examples to recorded instances where technology in healthcare has saved many a lives and made lives better to many using them. But will want to conclude by just saying this,  when you are comfortable with your personal information being stored on your Email and social media accounts, hail riding and food delivery Apps, cloud storage we can do away with a little information by being part of such a grand scheme.

PS: As much as I laud the application of technology into health care services and our lives I also acknowledge data security issues, overlapping of data and assimilation of data given many players are involved, I also know how the data can be misused. But have we all not been part of such a system in our lives where initial version of it has had many such problems but have evolved over the time into a strong reliable system. All in all I will be part of such a system and endorse it to my family and peers.

Rajesh Vaddiparthy

Author: Rajesh Vaddiparthy

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