Tracing India’s Journey in Digitizing Healthcare
For the world’s largest democracy, healthcare and well-being have always been a high priority and the foundational pillars of its socio-economic development agenda. From launching the world’s largest insurance scheme to being the unmatched vaccine manufacturing power during COVID-19, India has been hailed as the torchbearer of unparalleled determination & unmatched dedication towards health.
What we saw during 2020 was the beginning of a complete paradigm shift, the onset of the ‘new normal’ with the nature of healthcare delivery and the ‘journey of care’ we take with healthcare professionals being fundamentally changed and altered.
The COVID-19 pandemic was a watershed moment that re-emphasized the importance of digital technologies to provide seamless care oriented towards patients, precipitating an astounding rise in digital practices amongst doctors, patients, and other stakeholders within the healthcare ecosystem.
Today, India is at an inflection point in the evolution of the digital world with a single vision on reimagining healthcare for every Indian, irrespective of their social strata, gender, religion, age, and so on.
India has been taking significant steps to unlock its potential and power in digital health, the rewards of which will be palpable to hundreds of millions of citizens. To enable wider adoption of digital tools to improve care, India has formulated the National Health Digital Mission which lays out the architectural framework to support universal health coverage in an efficient, accessible, inclusive, affordable, timely and safe manner, provide a wide range of data, information, and infrastructure services, and to ensure the security, confidentiality, and privacy of health-related personal information by duly leveraging open, interoperable, standards-based digital systems
To create a seamless online platform enabling interoperability within the digital health ecosystem, India has launched the Ayushman Bharat Digital Mission. Under the mission, India is dedicatedly working towards developing the backbone necessary to support the integrated digital health infrastructure of the country and bridge communications amongst different stakeholders of the Healthcare ecosystem through digital highways.
The Mission is built upon three key components & blocks viz.:
- Health ID to standardize the process of identification of individuals across healthcare providers,
- Health Professional Registry (HPR) as a comprehensive repository of all healthcare professionals across both modern and traditional systems of medicine, and
- Health Facility Registry (HFR) as the database of all health facilities of the nation across different systems of medicine
Under the Mission, 22.30 crore Health IDs have been created, 62,182 health facilities have been registered, and over 14,840 healthcare professionals have registered themselves, standing as a testimony to India’s commitment & acceptance of the ‘digital’ as the alternate model for healthcare delivery (Data as on 10th June, 11:46 AM)
Today India is entering a new era defined by telehealth or telemedicine as it is popularly known by moving past the traditional model of in-person consultations to redefine patients’ primary healthcare experience.
India has conceptualized a technological intervention known as e-Sanjeevani which seeks to enable remote doctor consultations and connect thousands living in remote parts of the country with doctors of metropolitan cities while sitting in the confines of their homes at no cost. In an exceptional feat, the platform has clocked 33 Mn consultations with over 3 lakh consultations delivered daily across 36 states to 95% of the population.
In addition, owing to the disruptions arising and triggering from the COVID-19 pandemic, India's government accorded the much-needed recognition to telemedicine by launching the “Telemedicine Practice Guidelines”, encouraging the use of telemedicine as a part of standard clinical practice and spelling out how digital technologies could be used in conjunction with other clinical standards, protocols, policies, and procedures for the provision of care, functioning as a strong linchpin for India’s emergence & rise as the global hub of telemedicine.
As acknowledged and positioned globally, India is the inventor of the Co-WIN platform, a state-of-the-art digital solution to help countries of the world to achieve universal vaccination against COVID-19. The platform envisions to ensure universal access to vaccination, withstanding physical, lingual, digital, and socio-economic barriers and monitors vaccination progress throughout the country at a granular level in terms of geographic and demographic coverage.
In terms of India’s track record on Co-WIN, more than 1 Bn citizens have registered on the Co-WIN portal with more than 1.86 billion doses of vaccine administered and duly recorded on Co-WIN. In addition, more than 10.7 million vaccination sessions have been held in the country across 5,04,478 centres with 73% coverage in rural areas (Data as on 18th April 2022).
India has also offered the technological prowess of the Co-WIN platform as a digital public good freely to all countries in the fight against COVID-19, aligned with India’s commitment to the traditional philosophy of ‘Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam’ (The World Is One Family).
With this, India is committed in bringing together public, health and tech voices for moving ahead in unlocking the power and potential of digital health.
This has been authored by Rashika Vij.