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New Digital Health Disruption in Post COVID-19 Era

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Top policymakers and experts deliberated on different aspects of National Digital Health Mission including challenges on front of implementation at Elets Virtual Transformation Summit. They dwelled into how the digital disruption would bolster healthcare delivery process in the session ‘New Digital Health Disruption in Post COVID-19 Era’.

The panelists participated in the discussion were Abhishek Kumar, Executive Director-IT, Ayushman Bharat – Pradhan Mantri Jan Arogya Yojana, National Health Authrority (NHA); Rajinder Chaudhry, Chief Media, Ministry of Health & Family Welfare, Government of India; Dr Atul Mohan Kochhar, Chief Executive Officer, National Accreditation Board of Hospitals (NABH); Dr D C Joshi, Senior Advisor, Board of Governors, Medical Council of India; Dr A Shariff, IT Head, All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS), Delhi; and Dr Manisha Shrivastava, Medical Superintendent, All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS), Bhopal.

Initiating the discussion, Shariff said, “When covid-19 hit, we put together lots of in-house solutions. IT is way to go. Centre has undertaken many measures recently like telemedicine guidelines and national Digital Health Mission, which will prove gamechanger in coming years. Covid-19 has accelerated the adoption of IT in healthcare. NDHM is great move but logistic challenge is privacy and safety of data. Addressing these aspects would be key challenge while implementing the initiative across the country.”

Also read: Hospital infrastructure: New challenges and opportunities

Underling the importance of awareness, Rajinder Chaudhry, Chief Media, Ministry of Health & Family Welfare, Government of India, said: “Any scheme of the government can’t get desired success unless people use various provisions of it or they were made aware of the same. Covid-19 has been a great example that how an awareness campaign is integral for successful implementation of any scheme. Mass awareness is needed and its holds true for NDHM. Awareness about the scheme should be known to all the beneficiaries and stakeholders, then only it could be effectively implemented.”

Abhishek Kumar, Executive Director-IT, Ayushman Bharat – Pradhan Mantri Jan Arogya Yojana, National Health Authrority (NHA), said that various stakeholders should work in tandem to accomplish the larger goal. Kumar said, “NHA has been entrusted to implement National Digital Health Mission. Covid-19 has exposed challenges in our healthcare delivery system. NDHM will be going to revolutionize our healthcare system. For any digital system to work well, we need two basic requirements—all the stakeholders involved in the healthcare ecosystem must be clearly identifiable in the system and interoperability.”

“Healthcare ecosystem is so fragmented that all the applications, services, and stakeholders are working in silos. We don’t have any integrated system. Most of the health records are in paper form presently which must to be digitalized for easy accessibility,” he added.

Dr Atul Mohan Kochhar, Chief Executive Officer, National Accreditation Board of Hospitals (NABH), underscored role of digital technology to improve care delivery system in rural areas.“The Digital disruption offers huge opportunity. Digital technology, upgradation, and introduction of tele health in a big way is a good silver opportunity that has been provided to us during the covid times. In future, a significant portion of the healthcare will be telehealth that includes teleconsultations, mhealth, and all issues of security, privacy. With new technology, lots of responsibility also comes. This digital disruption will help us to take technology to masses. NDHM will revolutionize the face of healthcare delivery in India,” he said.

Dr D C Joshi, Senior Advisor, Board of Governors, Medical Council of India, said, “There is no doubt that health is one sector where digitization will help to streamline things. Digitisation has proved its might in banking and other sectors. In healthcare, it is at rudimentary stage. Though government has done undertaken measures, enabling people to check availability of beds, ventilators and all, lots need to be done. Information should be readily available and shared among all the healthcare facilities. Digitization has been done in the government sector, private sector lags behind. They have their internal system, but we don’t have any mechanism where we have coordination and synergy among all facilities.”

Dr Manisha Shrivastava, Medical Superintendent, All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS), Bhopal, heaped a praise on the government for a series of initiatives which proved effective in the covid-19 times. “When Covid knocked we were little prepared for it. The reason being the Government had already implemented Ayushman Bharat initiative and undertaken many digital initiatives like telemedicine. Stage was already set. RT-PCR is complicated test to be carried out in any setting. Contract tracing, patient tracing, sending them to covid centres, home isolation, have been managed beautifully. ICMR has managed record number of testing in the span of five six months. Digitization has played a key role on these fronts,” she said.

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