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Privacy Concerns with the Aarogya Setu Application for Covid19

Just this week, we recorded the second episode for the India Health Talk, with Dr Sumeet Kad. During the recording we ended up discussing the privacy concerns around Aarogya Setu, the contact tracing application launched by the Government of India to track Covid19 cases in the country. Aarognya Setu today has more than 10 Crore downloads and is the largest contact tracing application in the world. How do we balance the privacy concerns with managing a pandemic like Covid19? Alo what can we learn about other applications across the world in this space?

While I understand the concerns, in my opinion, during a pandemic we may need to give up some control over our data and privacy for the greater good of society. Pandemic is a national emergency and Covid19 is probably the worst example of it. But using privacy to derail the efforts to combat Covid19 is not a good idea. In the long run this may be our downfall.

Below is the full recording of the episode. Do let me know your thoughts as well.

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Telemedicine services critical to the wellness of senior citizens in India

On my 43rd birthday, I received an unexpected gift with the Medical Council of India along with Niti Aayog released the guidelines for the use of Telemedicine in India.

It was ironic as MCI and other state associations have been fighting a battle to stop teleconsultations and putting regulations around it. But the coming of Covid19 has changed all that.

Today after a long time we have a spurt in telemedicine providers in India. Industry experts like Bharat Gera former CIO of St Johns Hospital, are working with bodies like Telemedicine Society of India to put in a process to benchmark the functionality of these providers.

In the long run, I see this as a very positive move for senior citizens. These individuals fight it difficult to access healthcare. Especially as they have chronic conditions that need management, right from transportation, to long hours in the waiting room.

To discuss this and other associated topics, I got together with industry experts like Ravi Ramaswamy from Philips to discuss the impact telemedicine would have on seniors. We were joined by Dr Neeraj Bhalla and Dr Vallikiran to discuss the impact on areas like Cardiology and Psychiatry respectively.

The recording of the session is below.

I believe that Telemedicine is a boon to seniors. There would be a learning curve with respect to getting used to the platform, training to caregivers, and then managing concerns like security. But I think Telemedicine is here to stay.

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National Health Blue Print 2019

Niti Aayog in July 2019 has finally released the digital health blueprint policy for India. The focus of the digital health blueprint is in line 2017 National health policy which focuses on long with a strong emphasis on the care continuum. National health policy also plays a lot of emphasis on the Triple Aims that include

1)Accessibility

2) Affordability

3) Quality of care

National Digital Health blueprint truly recognises that there is no one entity or organisation that can solve the Healthcare problems of India it calls the blueprint for the entire Healthcare system this is a strong departure from the traditional ideology that the government is the sole provider of healthcare for all citizens.

National health blueprint focuses on three major components

  1. Digital health infrastructure number
  2. Digital data
  3. Standards and regulations

Meeting key healthcare objectives

The key objectives of the national digital health blueprint include establishing the core data model for storing and using healthcare data that would be generated from this ecosystem. Standards for the infrastructure required for its seamless integration using standards for all the components of the ecosystem.

The other interesting aspect is creating a system of Personal Health Records, based on international standards, and easily accessible to the citizens and to the service providers, based on citizen-consent.

There is also a provision for declassifying data for usage for analytics and doing population health management. In addition to these, there is guidance on governance, leveraging information systems already in place.

Finally, the 4 building blocks of the policy are

  1. Identification- Identifying the citizen and ensuring that his corresponding health data is mapped to his id. This is possible through Personal health identifier and through the health registries
  2. Citizen in the center- All access and control of the data lie with the citizen. This is enforced through consent manager, Anonymizer and Privacy Operations Center.
  3. Interoperability- Data should be available through health information exchange and National Health Informatics Standards.
  4. Access – Governed by Mobile First and a Digital Web portal strategy

I would encourage you to download the blue print report and study the implications of the report for your self. Looking forward to your comments.

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Can India’s new Maternity Benefit Bill get more women to return to work? I am not sure