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Introduction

The covid-19 pandemic has presented a watershed moment, halting the world’s healthcare systems and forcing us to reconsider existing healthcare delivery models and embrace the sector’s digital transformation. However, much more needs to be done to create a favourable environment for digital healthcare to thrive, allowing health benefits to reach the last mile. Telemedicine, for example, has become the norm for those who are unable to visit hospitals.

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Better health outcomes with digital healthcare

  • Setting patient priorities: Assume that Covid-19 mortality is significantly increased by comorbidities or the presence of other underlying conditions such as hypertension or diabetes. Doctors can prioritise patients based on test results using digital health records.
  • Portability of health records: A patient’s first hospital visit, or her/his most frequently visited hospital, is made easier by the portability of records.
    • If she/he wishes to switch healthcare providers due to cost or quality concerns, she/he can access her health records without carrying paper prescriptions and test results.
    • People will be able to access and share their lab reports, x-rays, and prescriptions with doctors or family members, regardless of where they were generated.
  • Convenience: Through e-pharmacies, online appointments, teleconsultation, and other health benefits, patients will be able to access healthcare facilities remotely. Furthermore, because the patient’s entire medical history is recorded in the Health ID card, the doctor will be able to better understand the case and offer better medication.
  • Impetus for policymaking from technology: Meanwhile, the scheme’s beneficiaries may not be limited to individuals. With large amounts of data available, the government can develop policies based on geographical, demographic, and risk-factor-based health monitoring.
  • If digital healthcare is implemented
    • Preventing Pandemic Spread: Once data is collected and analysed, it can assist systems in determining prevalence and genomic data to provide information on disease transmission and geospatial coverage.
      • The innovative use of digital tools such as deep learning and cloud emergency response algorithms has greatly aided emergency room workers in reducing response time during the pandemic.
    • Patient-Friendly Health: The deployment of artificial intelligence tools for all aspects of the health system, including triaging and diagnostics, among others, will significantly reduce delays and, thus, healthcare costs.
      • Healthcare digital transformation is at the heart of addressing issues such as resource constraints, a diverse population mix, and an urgent need to expand medical reach.
    • Preventive Medicine: Emerging technologies not only speed up drug development but also usher in a completely new class of therapies, such as digital therapeutics (DTx).
      • DTx are software-based solutions that can treat diseases or disorders caused by lifestyle choices.
      • As a result, digital health is having an increasing impact on care delivery and offers the opportunity to tackle the next frontier in healthcare by shifting the focus from treatment to prevention.
    • Aids in Clinical Trials: Digital health can harness the power of data to aid in the analysis of samples and images in order to diagnose and drive better clinical decision-making.

Ayushman Bharat Digital Mission Highlights

  • Health ID: It will be issued to each citizen and will serve as their health account. This health record will include information on every test, every disease, the doctors seen, the medications taken, and the diagnosis.
    • Health ID is free and voluntary. It will aid in the analysis of health data, resulting in better health programme planning, budgeting, and implementation.
  • Registry of Healthcare Facilities and Professionals: The programme also includes the creation of a Healthcare Professionals’ Registry (HPR) and a Healthcare Facilities Registry (HFR), which will allow for easy electronic access to medical professionals and health infrastructure.
    • The HPR will serve as a comprehensive repository for all healthcare professionals involved in the delivery of healthcare services in both modern and traditional medical systems.
  • Ayushman Bharat Digital Mission Sandbox: As part of the mission, the Sandbox will serve as a framework for technology and product testing, assisting organisations, including private players, intending to be a part of the national digital health ecosystem become a Health Information Provider or Health Information User, or efficiently link with Ayushman Bharat Digital Mission building blocks.

Benefits

  • Make it easier for doctors, hospitals, and healthcare service providers to do business.
  • With citizens’ permission, allow access to and exchange of longitudinal health records.
  • Foster integration within the digital health ecosystem, similar to how the Unified Payments Interface (UPI) helped to revolutionise payments.

Digital healthcare’s limitations

  • The lack of a data protection bill could lead to data misuse by private companies and bad actors.
  • Exclusion of citizens and denial of healthcare due to system flaws are also causes for concern.
  • Health insurance may be denied by a company due to a lack of data security and nefarious motives.
  • There is a significant digital divide between rural and urban India. Rural residents lack access to primary health care centres, let alone digital healthcare. In rural areas, smart phone penetration is low.
  • Cyber security, falling for fraudulent mischief of people by unsuspecting innocent individuals can result in significant financial loss.

Conclusion

The promise of digital solutions in healthcare is enormous with an enabling ecosystem, supported by effective policies for digital healthcare and increased innovation. Precision healthcare will soon become essential to every citizen’s health and well-being.

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