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National Medical Commission pushes medical college patients to register via ABHA ID: Some questions and concerns

The NMC argued that digital documentation of clinical material helps “in making assessment valid” but what about informing patients about medical students’ access to their data?

What’s the news: National Medical Commission, in a recent circular, stated that all patients seeking treatment in medical college hospitals should be encouraged to register through the Ayushman Bharati Health Account (ABHA ID). Interestingly, the circular allows colleges to use the collected data for undergraduate and postgraduate training, giving medical students access to patient data. While it is true that India’s recent data protection law exempts government from data processing norms, the circular still raises questions like “to what extent will the data be accessible?”, “will the patient data be anonymised?”, or “does health data qualify as personal data?” Colleges to arrange for provision of ABHA ID: As per the circular, the NMC argued that digital documentation of clinical material helps “in making assessment valid and also aid in the rating procedures.” It instructed all colleges to provide “an appropriate infrastructure in their hospitals to facilitate ABHA ID generation to the patients seeking help in that hospital.” No mention of informing patients of data usage: The Digital Personal Data Protection Act, 2023 of India states that any entity wishing to collect and process data of an individual must first ask for consent by sending a notice to the person first. Separate provisions under the Act also state that government entities will be exempt from the requirements under these laws. However, the notification listing these exempt entities is yet to come out so it is still unclear whether healthcare-related entities also come under these exempt government bodies. This is important considering…

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I'm interested in the shaping and strengthening of rights in the digital space. I cover cybersecurity, platform regulation, gig worker economy. In my free time, I'm either binge-watching an anime or off on a hike.

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