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Startup Eka.Care roped in to help issue digital IDs under Ayushman Bharat Digital Mission

The ID that’ll be unique to every patient in India has already been shelled out to 11 crore people via the COVID-19 vaccine portal.

As the Ayushman Bharat Digital Health Mission (ABDM), previously known as the National Digital Health Mission, gains footing across the country, Bengaluru-based health-tech startup Eka.Care has announced that it has received authorisation to facilitate issuing health IDs (UHID).

Eka.Care is supposed to be one of the first private organisations to receive such permission, according to a report by The Free Press Journal. MediaNama checked the NDHM’s list of approved sandbox integrators and found that Eka.Care was included in the list.

An app-based platform, Eka.Care provides storage of health records, allows doctors to manage and get appointments, and lets diagnostic labs send digitised reports as well.

The ABDM’s health data management policy (HDMP) laid down that private organisations looking to help issue health IDs must register with it. It is important to note which organisations have received a nod to help issue Health IDs as digital health platforms have previously been accused of playing fast and loose with sensitive medical data; the government itself has been accused of not obtaining informed consent when generating Health IDs during India’s vaccination drive.

What does the Health Data Management Policy under ABDM say?

According to its data policy, the organisation completes registration and the ABDM provides it with an authorisation key that enables access to the services required to issue a health ID. After this, the organisation has to verify the identity of an individual whose health ID is being generated. The verification could be through Aadhaar or any other mechanism.

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The policy also lays down that such a data fiduciary should take informed consent, only collect data as is relevant for the creation of a health ID, provide a clear privacy policy, and implement certain cybersecurity requirements.

They (the data fiduciaries) will be accountable for complying with measures which give effect to the privacy principles while processing any personal data by it or on its behalf — the policy says

Health IDs, ABDM, and some controversies: Briefly explained

A Unique Health ID is a unique identifier that is linked to a person’s health records, their Aadhaar card, and phone number.  This ID would help create a longitudinal Personal Health Record (PHR) for the individual, i.e., a medical record across multiple patient encounters in different health facilities, according to a consultation paper by the National Health Authority (NHA). The ABDM is the Indian government’s attempt at creating a digital health ecosystem through Health IDs, registries of healthcare professionals and health facilities, APIs, and other building blocks around telemedicine, e-pharmacies, and so on.

During India’s vaccination drive, the CoWIN platform was allowed to issue Unique Health IDs – now 13 crore in number. Although seven prescribed Photo IDs – Aadhaar, PAN card, Drivers License, Passport, Voter-ID, NPR Smart Card, and Pension Document with a photograph – could authenticate the eligibility and identity of the beneficiary, linking vaccination certificates and records to a Unique Health ID which is generated after vaccine registration through Aadhaar, led the government to encourage the use of Aadhaar for vaccination registrations. In some cases, it has also led to people falsely believing that Aadhaar-based authentication was mandatory to get vaccinated.

Meanwhile, private health tech companies have used patient data to create health and other digital IDs for them, digitising their records and, at times, processing their records to promote their services without full informed consent. In the absence of a data protection law in the country and considering that health data contains sensitive information, experts have raised concerns on the issue.

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Written By

I cover health technology for MediaNama but, really, love all things tech policy. Always willing to chat with a reader! 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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