Abhishek Kumar, Director, IT, NDHM, National Health Authority, explains how the national health mission is laying the groundwork for creating digital health ecosystem in India.
While the union government seeks to create an interoperable national digital health ecosystem through the National Digital Health Mission (NDHM), it does not want to build a centralised project of sorts, emphasised Abhishek Kumar, Director, IT, NDHM, National Health Authority, at the second edition of Elets Digital Health Conclave, held with a theme ‘Reimagining Healthcare with Technology’.
Kumar explained, “Although, we are doing national health medicine, it does not mean that everything is to be done by us and that NDHM is a centralised kind of project. Our rule is just to enable and create foundational digital public goods on the top of which an interoperable national digital health ecosystem can be created. Although, these terms appear a little bit like jargon, in simple terms, it means that different digital system in the entire ecosystem across the country, be it clinics or government and private hospitals, different digital systems should be able to talk to each other, and citizens or patients should be able to get a premium-based value-added service.”
When it comes to NDHM, he continued, “We have to broadly do only two things. First, creation of various registries; citizens need to have some identifier in the form of health ID, and similarly, healthcare professionals of hospitals, clinics and labs need to be a part of our healthcare professional registry. This will enable the unique identification of various stakeholders in the health ecosystem across the country and different digital systems will be able to talk to one another seamlessly. This is the basic building block over building block, which we seek to create in NDHM. But, this in itself is not sufficient; the other thing required is just like a conversation between two people for effective communication, the two persons need to know one another apart from that they also need to understand each other’s language. This is the second component of the work of NDHM to create standards and specifications; so it is like creating a common speaking language for various digital systems.”
Kumar further informed that NDHM is laying down various standards and has published many consultation papers on registries as well as unified health interface and “we understand that specifically with respect to a standard and a specification, we can create an effective communication language only if we take a view of all stakeholders involved. Once we have created these two foundational blocks: registries, and standards and specifications, we will witness various systems talking to one another and there will be discoverability of healthcare professionals and varied health services across the country; and the person sitting in a remote area will be able to connect to any healthcare professional.”