India is planning to move towards “Digital India” and Technology for Health – e-Healthcare is mentioned in the proposed 5th Pillar of eKranti. The stress is on pan-India healthcare information exchange and services, like online medical consultation and medicine supply with a focus on electronic health / medical records (EHR / EMR).
The Ministry of Health and Family Welfare (MoHFW), Government of India, had notified the Guidelines for EHR Standards in September 2013, and had also become a Country Member of IHTSDO for using SNOMED-CT (a global standard for medical vocabulary) in April 2014. However, India is yet to have a National eHealth Strategy or Policy.
Currently the MoHFW is in the process of setting up the National eHealth Authority (NeHA). Once the NeHA is set up, the first priority for it should be to formulate a National eHealth Strategy or Policy, in consultation with all the stakeholders – the general public, state governments, healthcare providers, health information technology vendors, and academicians. It will be prudent to have a robust National eHealth Strategy to facilitate smooth adoption of eHealth in India. Presently (by 20th April 2015) the MoHFW is inviting comments from all the stakeholders on the Concept Note of NeHA. Let us hope that everyone sends in adequate inputs to formalize the concept and to quickly make the NeHA a necessary and useful reality. The earlier the NeHA is set up, the better it will be for integrating the diverse ICT efforts (by the Central and State governments, as well as the various private players) for delivering healthcare to all.