“Already e-Sanjeevani-like open-network teleconsultation services are running well pan India. However, most of the patients require physical examination and some key findings may be missed through online consultation and may end up in misdiagnosing and wrongly treating medical condition,” New Delhi’s Safdarjung Hospital told the National Health Authority (NHA), as part of its comments on the proposed Unified Health Interface (UHI).
The prominent Delhi hospital’s comments on the UHI, along with submissions from other stakeholders, were made public earlier this month by the NHA. UHI would form the second last layer of the National Digital Health Mission (NDHM), determining how third-party applications will interact with it. The NDHM is a multi-layered digital health infrastructure that looks to digitise sensitive health data for citizens, pushing for more teleconsultations, and the creation of longitudinal, electronic health records for all Indian citizens.
Among hundreds of submissions by various health tech companies and industry bodies, the Safdarjung Hospital was the only hospital to submit comments on the UHI. On the interface, hospitals can participate through the Health Facility Registry to provide teleconsultations.
What was said about the UHI?
On Open Network
NHA: It asked stakeholders about the benefits and risks anticipated in an open network approach to digital health services. The NHA has proposed an Open protocol-based UHI with standards that offer interoperability between various stakeholders.
Safdarjung Hospital referred to the already existing open network teleconsultation platform E-Sanjeevani and noted that teleconsultation in some cases, could lead to misdiagnosis and incorrect treatments.
NHA: Any other stakeholders in the UHI that the NHA hasn’t mentioned in its consultation paper?
Safdarjung Hospital suggested that paramedics like physiotherapists/ occupational therapists should be added to the list of stakeholders to provide home therapies.
On the phased roll-out of health services in the UHI
NHA: How digital health services should be phased in the UHI?
Safdarjung Hospital suggested that the interface should begin with providing teleconsultation services and then move on to ‘other allied services’.
NHA had listed 15 questions inviting comments from stakeholders. (A full list of questions is available here)
Safdarjung Hospital commented that all the other provisions, clauses listed by the paper – on incentives, post-fulfillment services like rating, and grievance redressal on consultations and data exchange – were sufficient.
It only refrained from commenting on the clauses governing the management of UHI’s gateway, saying that it was beyond its purview and was technical in nature. Gateways are entry points in the UHI for third-party health service providers or end-user applications to join the NDHM ecosystem.
Comments and consultations so far
MediaNama has been extensively covering the various consultative inputs that the NHA has received on various components of the NDHM, including the UHI. At an Open House held by the NHA on September 6, it gave an overview of the inputs it has received so far.
The health authority said that it had received 329 comments so far.
Out of this:
- 48% were on the Health Professional’s Registry
- 33.4% were on the UHI
- 18.5% were on the Health Facilites’ Registry
Further by area of concern
- 23.4% were on implementation – as in how the concepts would be implemented across the country, in areas where other infrastrucure is weak.
- 25.3% were on policy – such as data sharing mechanisms, data regulations, etc.
- 51.1% were on product – such as the design principles as well as technological aspects of the building blocks
During the Open House, it also noted that this marked the fourth stage of its consultative process on different parts of the NDHM. Previously, it had conducted consultations on the
- NDHM draft implementation strategy,
- NDHM blueprint,
- NDHM data policy,
- Sandbox framework guidelines, and others.
Also Read (feedbacks submitted by other stakeholders):
- What Did FICCI, IAMAI, NASSCOM, And CII Say About The Unified Health Interface?
- Practo says UHI could enable healthcare monopolies
- Amazon Internet Services Calls For Greater Private Sector Involvement In Proposed NDHM
- IT For Change Warns That Proposed Interface Under NDHM Might Establish Oligopoly In Digital Health
- NABH Says Private Actors Will Dilute Critical Processes Under NDHM
- Open House on National Digital Health Mission: Stakeholders want no liability for data, fair discovery, and more.
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