Author – Amitesh Tyagi,
Alumni IIM Ahmedabad and Co-Founder IndiaLetsPlay
One of the key initiatives of Digital India is e-Health – to unleash the power of technology for better health, better medication, better facilities and so better lives and to make it available to the farthest corner of the country. The fundamentals for success of eHealth are based on three principles:
- Information pervasiveness drives transparency
- Seamless delivery of quality health services/products
- Access to quality service providers
With information pervasiveness, technology drives transparency:
A unique quality of technology is its ability to break barriers without it being visible. It is a powerful tool, when used right can wreak havoc on people thriving on these barriers. With eHealth, one of the objectives of PM Modi is to break the barrier of information lying with the experts (genuine and non-genuine) and bring it to the common man. How does it help? One answer lies in the threat to the numerous quacks, which thrive all over the country due to lack of appropriate information. The urban parts of the country are witnessing a strong destruction of these barriers through technology; PM Modi’s vision is to take it to the hinterland. And this is just one use case justifying this tech-enabled transparency. There are many more.
Seamless delivery of quality health services/products:
eHealth envisages new age concepts like ePharmacy, eDiagnostics, eInsurance, eReferrals and more. These facilities would provide a robust ecosystem support to the patients and service providers alike with access to information – anytime, anywhere. With all related elements docked together and with completeness, the patient information and related aspects to it would be standardized. Similar tech-models and data structures on the provider side, while largely in place for medium to large-scale providers, shall bring standardization across the board for all service providers. This can lead to strong swing in market with across the board standardization in services and costs, making it all a well-knit mesh of health services. Many advanced countries have been successful in applying these at a relatively smaller scale
Quack doctor gives an injection to a patient in Okhla Slum, Delhi, India, using a dirty needle. Following the injection, the ‘doctor’ returned the needle to his desk for use on another patient. 65% of all injections in India are given using a dirty syringe. Transmission of HIV/AIDS and Hepatitis B are common because of this unsafe practice.
Because of lack of funding and negligence, hospitals and clinics around the country are forced to reuse syringes two or more times. In the slums, it is common for a ‘quack’ doctor to reuse a single syringe on more than ten patients. In these areas, patients are generally uneducated and unaware of the health risks.
Access to the most cost-effective quality service and product providers:
With information mobility going big in the country riding on the mobile-tech boom, a common man shall have the power to find good quality service and product providers, and would be able to compare prices to ensure that they get a fair deal for services and products. One often wonders how a particular pathological test gets charged differently in different parts of the same town. It is this disparity that eHealth initiatives can address and solve.
It remains a daunting task to achieve this mammoth task given the complexity that India operates in. As they say the grander the vision, the bigger it can be a failure. Lets not forget that India is a country where people are smart enough to game the system and twist it to their advantage with jugaad. Referring back to our previous mention on UIDAI, India has seen instances where a dog also received its Aadhar card and dead/unknown people have got electoral ID cards.Now imagine if such eHealth systems are built and maintained with these or similar standards, then what kind of dangers are we exposing the world’s largest democracy to. A wrong identity as far as your bank account or your telephone number or your vote goes, while not acceptable, but still can be restricted to cause only a limited damage. But one wrong diagnosis or wrong treatment based on poor eHealth systems can destroy many lives. The grandeur of eHealth lies in the mission but the devil is in its execution.Whether PM Modi is weaving a huge technology mesh to build a healthy India or is committing a mistake and leading a unique mess of its own kind, only time will tell. But it remains a grand initiative and something that the whole world is watching.
Disclaimer: The opinions expressed within this article are the personal opinions of the author. The facts and opinions appearing in the article do not reflect the views of The Indian Iris and The Indian Iris does not assume any responsibility or liability for the same.