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Delhi cabinet approves plan to issue eHealth cards, health IDs to residents

Delhi’s plans to roll out its own unique IDs may actually be part of a larger push for the digitisation of health records in India.

As the Ayushman Bharat Digital Mission (ABDM) rolls out across the country, state governments have started collating digital health records already. The latest is the Delhi government, whose cabinet has given financial approval to its eHealth card and Health Information Management System (HIMS) project, according to a report by the Hindustan Times.

The project, formulated in 2018, deals with issuing Unique Health IDs and PVC cards as part of a larger HIMS that is expected to manage appointment bookings, hospital administration, supply chains, etc. Health data is sensitive and although state governments are allowed to process it, the data needs to have strict security and access controls in place.

How is this expected to work?

What will the health IDs be linked to? According to reports, the IDs will be mandatorily linked to the Delhi-registered Voter IDs of adult citizens, who will at first be issued a temporary eHealth Card. These cards will be made permanent after a year, during which their information will be verified. Children’s health cards and UHIDs will be linked with their parents’ IDs. For newborn children, the IDs will be connected to that of their mothers.

How can individuals register? Government hospitals and other centres will allow individuals to create such IDs, although there are plans to have ‘door-to-door’ registrations as well.  The Delhi government has also said that individuals can pre-register, although it is not clear how or when this provision will be available.

When will the project go live? The roll-out of the Health IDs and eHealth Cards is slated for 2022. The vendor selection and bidding process for the project have reportedly been completed.

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What services will the system offer individuals? Individuals enrolled in the system will, apart from having digital health records and being able to book appointments, receive information on which Delhi government schemes and programs they can avail. According to a report, a call centre will also be set up to provide teleconsultations and address patient queries.

MediaNama has reached out to the Delhi government’s Health and Family Welfare Department for more details about the project and will update this report when they respond.

Push for digitisation of health across India

While the Indian capital’s project is just taking off, Tamil Nadu, Orissa, and Bihar have already commenced large-scale health digitisation projects. In Tamil Nadu, the state health department has announced that its citizens will receive their own Unique Health IDs, whereas in Orissa and Bihar, projects to digitise health records are underway via a public-private partnership.

However, there is a possibility that these state-issued IDs and health records could at some point be integrated with the Centre’s ABDM wherein over 12 crore individuals have already been enrolled. With the massive digitisation project generating Health IDs without consent (or with partial consent, in some cases), and given the sensitive and confidential nature of health data, many are wary of a project such as the ABDM coming up in the absence of any data protection or privacy law.

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Written By

I cover health and education technology for MediaNama. Reach me at anushka@medianama.com

MediaNama’s mission is to help build a digital ecosystem which is open, fair, global and competitive.

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