The Directive Principles of State Policy in the Constitution of India mandate ‘improvement of public health’ as one of the primary duties of the State. The Central and State Governments have been taking proactive steps to promote health of the people by creating a network of public healthcare facilities, which provide free medical services, and also proactively control the spread of diseases.
To improve the healthcare system in India Information and Communication Technologies have been implemented.
ICT can be used to improve healthcare services by providing:
• Information access to doctors, patients, researchers, healthcare professionals, and others to get desired changes in behaviors and outcomes of all the stakeholders.
• Design less expensive, robust and more realistic methods of testing the effectiveness of alternative clinical practices.
• Construct better measures of healthcare outcomes, delivery system characteristics, and other variables that may affect outcomes.
• By developing electronic patient database must be developed which provides an easy and quick access to large databases and data can be easily accessed and transmitted through communication medium.
• By providing decision support systems are required to facilitate the physicians and doctors in decision making.
Some of the initiatives are:
• National eHealth Authority
National eHealth Authority (NeHA) is a proposed body as a promotional, regulatory and standards setting organization to guide and support India’s journey in e-Health and consequent realization of benefits of ICT(Information and Communication Technology) intervention in Health sector in an orderly way.
• Health Management Information System
To monitor the performance and quality of the health services being provided under the NHM, it is important to introduce mechanisms that would strengthen the monitoring and evaluation systems, through performance statistics, surveys, community monitoring, quality assurance etc.
The Health Statistics Information Portal facilitates the flow of physical and financial performance from the District level to the State HQ and the Centre using a web based Health Management Information System (HMIS) interface. The portal will provide periodic reports on the status of the health sector.
• Electronic Health Records
An electronic health record (EHR) is a digital version of a patient’s paper chart.
EHRs are real-time, patient-centered records that make information available instantly and securely to authorized users.
While an EHR does contain the medical and treatment histories of patients, an EHR system is built to go beyond standard clinical data collected in a provider’s office and can be inclusive of a broader view of a patient’s care.
Introducing and streamlining EHR in Indian health care would help government address Health care from a futuristic approach than a causal one.
To provide healthcare facilities in rural areas, the government today launched a telemedicine initiative in collaboration with Apollo Hospitals under which people can consult doctors through video link.
The CSCs will also provide diagnostic services and promote sale of generic drugs through collaboration with Ministry of Health, by setting up Jan Aasudhi Stores.
Advantages of Information and Communication Technology in Health Care are:
• Improved timeliness (better quality of healthcare delivery)
• Effectiveness (right intervention / audit trails for adverse events)
• Efficiency (less resources in terms of manpower, time and cost)
• Informed patients and their caregivers
• Better access
• Diagnostic accuracy
• Reduced waiting times
• Better referral management