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Telangana citizens to get a Digital Health Profile Card in 2024: All You Need to Know

From biometrics to health records, Telangana’s digital health plan is ambitious but has it considered the cybersecurity challenges involved?

What’s the news: Telangana Chief Minister A. Revanth Reddy has ordered government officials to prepare a ‘Digital Health profile’ card for everyone in Telangana on January 29, 2024. As per a tweet by the Chief Minister’s Office, Reddy suggested linking the digital health profile card with a unique number as well as the Aarogyasri card to provide required treatment in emergency situations.

In 2023, KT Rama Rao said that these health profiles would be created using 57 parameters of every resident in the state. This is part of a larger scheme of the government “to provide healthcare to the poor” under the Aarogyasri Healthcare Trust (AHCT). However, while such a profile would mean easy access to patient’s health records for doctors, it would also allow the central government to access and use this data in the absence of security measures. Some may argue that the data would be protected under the personal data protection law of India. However, the law, as it stands now, does not specify health data or mention the necessary measures to protect such sensitive data.

Digital records to collect biometric data as well: Earlier, MediaNama looked at a tender that talked about an app to create digital health records of people. Individuals will self-register on the app using Aadhaar-based authentication and add family members as part of their dataset. The system will “map” people’s FSC (Foof Security Card) number and Aadhaar number. It will also take a person’s demographic details and allow users to retrieve them based on the FSC, UHID (Unique Health Identification Number), or Aadhaar number. Further, it will “auto-calculate” a person’s age, save their photograph and maintain a unique AHCT number. Biometrics and facial integration systems will also be used during this registration process.

Experts speaking with MediaNama at the time said such digitization would have been a welcome move if the government had also answered concerns around inadequate infrastructure, accessibility issues, lack of robust security measures even in policy, etc. One expert mentioned that digitization can make healthcare vulnerable to more incidents like the AIIMS cyber-attack. A detailed account of these concerns can be read here.

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Officials to clear all Aarogyasri bills of government hospitals: The tweet also stated that officials have been asked to clear the Aarogyasri bills of the government hospitals every month. Further, officials were also directed to:

  • Enter into an agreement with private hospitals for the release of Aarogyasri bills every three months.
  • Release the pending Rs. 270 crore Aarogyasri bills for government hospitals and affiliated medical colleges.
  • Regularly pay the salaries of junior doctors, Asha workers, and staff nurses on a monthly basis.

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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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