In the year 2015, the ministry of health and welfare published a note that instituted a National eHealth Authority (NeHA). This was done in order to regulate the increasing usage of electronic records in healthcare, and for the maintenance of digital health information and e-Health records across the country.
On the back of the current healthcare scenario in India, where services, especially in rural India have been largely unaffected by the influx of the internet, e-records are the need of the hour. Even today, doctor’s prescriptions, lab and X-ray results are archived in the same manner as we did decades ago and manually transported from one place to another. Thus with the institution of NeHA, Indian healthcare is set to change radically.
At NeHA, the goal is ‘to ensure the development and promotion of an eHealth ecosystem in India enabling the organisation, management, and provision of effective people-centered health services to all in an efficient, cost-effective and transparent manner’. With this as the end goal, electronic health records (EHRs) will definitely go a long way to enable uniform and smarter access to healthcare.
EHRs offer the ability to store and make information available through cloud, and can help provide higher quality and safer services. EHRs can also help ensure better care by providing accurate, complete and up to date patient information. Through EHRs, information can also be shared securely with medical professionals and patients. By employing such methods in healthcare operations, it can greatly help with accurate diagnosis and reduce medical errors. EHRs also go a long way in improving the relationship between patients and medical service providers, besides enabling safer and more reliable prescriptions. As EHRs function as a centralised source of patient information, they also help promote the use of legible and streamlined documentation, as well as improve efficiency through lesser paperwork and reduced duplication of testing.
In a country like India, where accident statistics show one serious incident being reported every minute and 16 deaths every hour, EHRs are definitely the need of the hour for emergency medical service providers. With the implementation of EHRs, systems can be installed in ambulances and hooked up to patients to continuously monitor and record their heart rate, blood pressure and other vital information. This will then be directly recorded and stored in a patient’s record for further use.
With more than 75 and 65 per cent of outpatients and inpatients being admitted to private facilities in India, the use of EHRs have become increasingly important for accurate diagnosis. One of the biggest problems we face today is that of wrong diagnosis. By bringing in a modern approach with e-records, this can be minimised and eventually become a thing of the past.
The use of information and communication technology has already an integral part of our lives with thousands of apps constantly accessing our information. Data like locations, contacts, pictures, fingerprints and even habits are being tracked, and used to communicate between service provider and user, to make our lives easier. This brings us to introduce a similar system for healthcare, which is of prime importance. At present, the use of information and communication technology has been limited to registration and billing for patients at hospitals. With the NeHA at the helm of matters concerning EHRs, we can soon change this and bring about a revolution in Indian healthcare.