- GS-2: Issues relating to development and management of health
- GS-2: Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation.
Digital Health ID
Context: Recently PM launched the Ayushman Bharat Digital Mission (ABDM) that involves the creation of not just a unique health ID for every citizen, but also a digital healthcare professionals and facilities registry.
What is the unique health ID, and how does one get it?
- If a person wants to be part of the ABDM, she must create a health ID, which is a randomly generated 14-digit number.
- The ID will be broadly used for three purposes:
- Unique identification
- Threading of the beneficiary’s health records, only with their informed consent, across multiple systems and stakeholders.
- One can get a health ID by self-registration on the portal or by downloading the ABMD Health Records app on one’s mobile.
- Additionally, one can also request the creation of a health ID at a participating health facility, which may include government or private hospitals, community health centres, and wellness centres of the government across India.
- The beneficiary will also have to set up a Personal Health Records (PHR) address for consent management, and for future sharing of health records.
- Aadhar is not mandatory for createion of Health ID. One can use one’s mobile number for registration, without Aadhaar.
What is a PHR address?
- It is a simple self-declared username, which the beneficiary is required to sign into a Health Information Exchange and Consent Manager (HIE-CM).
- Each health ID will require linkage to a consent manager to enable sharing of health records data.
- An HIE-CM is an application that enables sharing and linking of personal health records for a user.
- At present, one can use the health ID to sign up on the HIE-CM; the National Health Authority (NHA), however, says multiple consent managers are likely to be available for patients to choose from in the near future.
What is the security of data?
- The National Health Authority (NHA) says ABDM does not store any of the beneficiary health records.
- The records are stored with healthcare information providers as per their “retention policies”, and are “shared” over the ABDM network “with encryption mechanisms” only after the beneficiary express consent.
Can a person delete his health ID and exit the platform?
Yes, the NHA says ABDM, supports such a feature. Two options are available: a user can permanently delete or temporarily deactivate her health ID.
- On deletion, the unique health ID will be permanently deleted, along with all demographic details. The beneficiary will not be able to retrieve any information tagged to that health ID in the future, and will never be able to access ABDM applications or any health records over the ABDM network with the deleted ID.
- On deactivation, the beneficiary will lose access to all ABDM applications only for the period of deactivation. Until she reactivates her health ID, she will not be able to share the ID at any health facility or share health records over the ABDM network.
What facilities are available to beneficiaries?
- One can access digital health records right from admission through treatment and discharge. Second, one can access and link your personal health records with your health ID to create a longitudinal health history.
- Upcoming new features will enable access to verified doctors across the country.
- Other features include
- The beneficiary can create a health ID for her child, and digital health records right from birth.
- There will be much inclusive access, with the health ID available to people who don’t have phones, using assisted methods.
How do private players get associated with a government digital ID?
- The NHA has launched the NDHM Sandbox: a digital architecture that allows helps private players to be part of the National Digital Health Ecosystem as health information providers or health information users.
- The private player sends a request to NHA to test its system with the Sandbox environment.
- The NHA then gives the private player a key to access the Sandbox environment and the health ID application programming interface (API).
- The private player then has to create a Sandbox health ID, integrate its software with the API; and register the software to test link records and process health data consent requests.
- Once the system is tested, the system will ask for a demo to the NHA to move forward. After a successful demo, the NHA certifies and empanels the private hospital.
Why is this initiative significant?
- The initiative has the potential to “increase the ease of living” along with “simplifying the procedures in hospitals”.
- At present, the use of digital health ID in hospitals is currently limited to only one hospital or to a single group, and mostly concentrated in large private chains. The new initiative will bring the entire ecosystem on a single platform.
- The system also makes it easier to find doctors and specialists nearest to you. Currently, many patients rely on recommendations from family and friends for medical consultation, but now the new platform will tell the patient who to reach out to, and who is the nearest.
- Also, labs and drug stores will be easily identified for better tests using the new platform.
Connecting the dots: