National e-Health Authority


What is NeHA?
  • It is a proposed regulatory body, tasked with overseeing the digitisation of health information
  • NeHA will be the nodal authority that will be responsible for development of an Integrated Health Information System (including Telemedicine and mHealth) in India, while collaborating with all the stakeholders, viz., healthcare providers, consumers, healthcare technology industries, and policymakers.
  • It will be responsible for enforcing the laws and regulations relating to the privacy and security of the patients health information and records
  • National e-Health Authority (NeHA) aims to promote standardization of Electronic Health Records (EHRs) and facilitate its exchange across facilities in a secured manner
  • The proposed National e-Health Authority (NeHA) would not be responsible for centralization of the medical history of the patients.
  • The authority will have one chairman and four full-time members.
  • The chairman will be an eminent person from the field of medicine or law and three members will be from diverse fields like medicine, public health, IT standards, health economics, management etc.
  • A standing consultative committee would have representations from ministry of health, directorate general of health services, NASSCOM, IRDA, WHO, MCI and consumer rights activists among others.
What would NeHA do?
NeHA would be responsible:
  • To guide the adoption of e-Health solutions at various levels and areas in the country in a manner that meaningful aggregation of health and governance data and storage/exchange of electronic health records happens at various levels in a cost-effective manner.
  • To facilitate integration of multiple health IT systems through health information exchanges.
  • To oversee orderly evolution of state-wide and nationwide Electronic Health Record Store/Exchange System that ensures that security, confidentiality and privacy of patient data is maintained and continuity of care is ensured.
  • Formulation of policies, strategies and implementation plan blueprint (National eHealth Policy / Strategy) for coordinated eHealth adoption in the country by all players; regulation and accelerated adoption of e-health in the country by public and private care providers and other players in the ecosystem.
  • Establish a network of different institutions to promote eHealth and Tele-medicine/remote healthcare/virtual healthcare and such other measures.
  • Formulation and management of all health informatics standards for India; Laying down data management, privacy & security policies, standards and guidelines in accordance with statutory provisions.
  • To promote setting up of state health records repositories and health information exchanges (HIEs).
  • To deal with privacy and confidentiality aspects of Electronic Health Records (EHR).
Why do we need such body?
One of the major challenges faced by patients in India today is that whenever he visits any healthcare provider he is typically subjected to a certain number of tests before the care provider initiates a treatment plan for his/her condition. If a visit is required to another healthcare provider for either the same or another care setting, the patient is likely to be put through the same process of examination, testing and treatment unless s/he diligently carries around his medical records.
With NeHA, a patient visiting another doctor wouldn’t need to undergo tests again or fill lengthy forms regarding their health information or addresses as the information will be readily available with the respective hospitals.
Benefits of NeHA:
  • A centralised electronic health record repository of all citizens which is the ultimate goal of the authority will ensure that the health history and status of all patients would always be available to all health institutions.
  • Such a move would mean the present practice of patients undergoing fresh tests every time they switch doctors would be discontinued and expenditure reduced. This would also expedite diagnosis and treatment.
  • It would also be a repository of full health information that can be processed to generate epidemiological data on a massive scale.
  • It will help avoid problems arising out of uncoordinated induction of IT systems in hospitals and public health systems.
  • It will also enforce the laws and regulations relating to the privacy and security of patients’ health information and records.
  • There would be a provision of Electronic Health Records (EHR) of patients. EHRs help doctors and hospitals to better manage care for patients by providing accurate, up-to-date and complete information, access patient records quickly for more efficient care and share electronic information securely with patients and other clinicians.
  • The system will also reduce medical errors, promote legible and complete documentation, coding and billing and improve productivity.
What are the main challenges in implementing this?
The poor uptake of electronic records by doctors in India, the lack of inter-operability between systems and devices, and the legitimate concern for privacy, security and safety of medical data are all formidable barriers.

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