On 15 August 2020, Prime Minister Narendra Modi unveiled the National Digital Health Mission, a drive to digitise the health ID of every Indian and revolutionise the nation’s healthcare sector. The new technology aims to give patients more control over their data, easing problems that many citizens currently experience when controlling the use of their records.
Giving details to the press, Modi stated that each Indian would have a kind of health account. Medics would be able to identify every participating user in the National Health Stack, adding transparency, efficiency, and privacy.
The goal of the new approach — developed by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare — is to digitise the entire healthcare ecosystem by creating electronic registries for healthcare professionals and health facilities. As a first step, the agency will introduce the Health Data Management Policy – a statute setting out a framework for the secure processing of patients’ sensitive personal data. Protected data would include medical records and history, genetic data, biometric data, sex life information, physical and mental health data, and payment details.
Backing the new drive is the concept of “security and privacy by design.” The Ministry of Health and Family Welfare wants to bake these features into the underlying technology to avoid some of the traditional architectural issues that have caused so much grief in Western countries.
It’s all part of a broader trend in countries around the world to create secure systems where individuals can easily access and share their health information with whomever they please. Governments are looking to construct national networks around the consent of the individual instead of siphoning it off to third-party gatekeepers, like medical professionals or EHR vendors. Such systems would reduce the regulatory burden on workers while giving consumers of health services more autonomy to do what they want with their information.
The solution up until this point has been to digitise health information using traditional health record software. But these innovations don’t address the core problems, such as patient data sovereignty, that Modi and others seek to solve. There is always a possibility for abuse.
However, the situation is changing. Now more than a decade into the blockchain era, data platform providers are proving that it is possible to create easily accessible individual health service records based on the individual’s consent.
BurstIQ, a key player in the sector, has developed a unique technology that is the perfect fit for these person-centric healthcare systems. The company builds a “secure data exchange solution” on the blockchain architecture, facilitating trustless transactions. Instead of having a central trusted party facilitating all exchanges, it works on a peer-to-peer basis.
Already, BurstIQ has a working system that lets patients decide what information they share with health professionals and when. Every time they want to grant access to a medical professional, they create a kind of smart contract, specifying the exact nature of the data they share, with whom and for how long.
BurstIQ is also partnering with Indian information technology firm Tech Mahindra to bring even more functionality to its offering. The former will provide the health information sharing platform, while the latter will offer its extensive list of clients and the ability to integrate BurstIQ’s technology into legacy health networks.
According to Rajesh Dhuddu, VP and Practice Leader for Blockchain and Cybersecurity at Tech Mahindra, “Tech Mahindra and BurstIQ will permit the provision of end-to-end solutions for healthcare organisations that could potentially save them hundreds of millions of dollars per year. By streamlining identity verification and improving both provider and identity data management, the Indian and global healthcare sector could become evenmore privacy-orientated and efficient.”
This new technology is arriving just in time for patients. With a global push towards enacting stricter consumer data protection laws, implementing more user-centric systems is a matter of urgency in many countries. Both BurstIQ and Tech Mahindra recognise that secure exchange, trust, and data integrity are at the centre of practically every modern business process. By working together, they hope to transform the future of connected services for countless organisations worldwide, changing how communities manage and share sensitive and personal information, including the Indian healthcare sector.