To take up digital India initiate ahead, MoHFW has started various e-Gov initiatives in Health care sectors in India, the division is named as eHealth division. e-Health is broadly defined as the use of Information and Communication Technology (ICT) in health. It will make a world of difference in India, where mobile technologies have been penetrating at rapid rate. As India has a strong presence in IT, the integrated health information system serves the needs of all stake-holders, by contributing approximately 8 percent to the GDP.
The eHealth initiatives has a vision to delivery better health outcomes in terms of
- lowering of disease burden and
- efficient monitoring of health entitlements to citizens
The scope of these initiatives are to make all medical facilities available all time from any part of the world through Web services, mobile services, SMS or Call center services. Broadly the intent is to cover Online medical consultation, Online medical records, Online medicine supply management and Pan-India exchange for patient information but not limited to the said services.
Benefits can be described in the form of 10 e’s in “e-Health”
- Efficiency: One of the promises of e-Health is to increase efficiency in health care, thereby decreasing costs. One possible way of decreasing costs would be avoiding duplicative or unnecessary diagnostic or therapeutic interventions, through enhanced communication possibilities between health care establishments, and through patient involvement.
- Enhancing Quality: Increasing efficiency involves not only reducing costs, but at the same time improving quality. e-Health may enhance the quality of health care by allowing comparisons between different providers, involving consumers as additional power for quality assurance, and directing patient streams to the best quality providers.
- Evidence based: e-Health interventions should be evidence based in a sense that their effectiveness and efficiency should not be assumed but proven by rigorous evaluation.
- Empowerment of consumers and patients: By making the knowledge bases of medicine and personal electronic records accessible to consumers over the internet, e-Health opens new avenues for patient centered medicine and enables evidence based patient choice.
- Encouragement: A new relationship between the patient and health professional, towards a true partnership, where decisions are made in a shared manner is developed.
- Education: The physicians are educated through online resources like medical education and consumers like health education, preventive information etc.
- Enabling information exchange and communication in a standardized way between health care establishments.
- Extending: The scope of health care is extended beyond its conventional boundaries. It means both in geographical and conceptual sense, e-Health enables consumers to easily obtain health services online from global providers.
- Ethics: e-Health involves new forms of patient-physician interaction and poses new challenges and threats to ethical issues such as online professional practice, informed consent, privacy and equity issues.
- Equity: To make health more equitable is one of the promises of e-Health. People who do not have money, skills, and access to computers and networks cannot use computers effectively. As a result, these patient populations are those who are least likely to benefit from advances in information technology, unless political measures ensure equitable access for all.