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Digitising healthcare in India

Prime Minister Narendra Modi has put a lot of stock on digitising India. A number of policy initiatives have been started with that aim in mind, including the Aadhar drive and the opening of zero-balance Jan-Dhan accounts with the aim of bringing rural within the banking umbrella. Now, after the recent move to demonetise 500 and 1000 rupee notes, the government has again signalled its intention of moving towards a cashless economy. Digital transactions are on the rise and urban Indians are using digital wallets and credit/debit cards to make more and more transactions.

Now the revolution is set to come into the healthcare sector. HII has written before about eHealth possibilities and how startups could revolutionise India’s healthcare sector needs. According to this article in the Indian Express, the government is now scheduled to launch the National e-Health Authority (NeHA), a regulatory body tasked with overseeing the digitisation of health information.

While this may seem to be a great idea on paper, it will have to surmount immense logistical challenges to make it work. Most health information is currently stored in the form of physical x-ray reports, medical receipts and doctors reports and prescriptions. Electronic records are hardly used by doctors in India and there is a lack of inter-operability between systems and devices.  Finally, the legitimate concern for privacy, security and safety of medical data are also formidable barriers.

Despite these challenges, the government must use the power of technology to be able to reach more and more people for healthcare services. Innovations like telemedicine are already in place. Digitising services will help take healthcare to the next level in India.

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