Strengthening national health programs using IT
Government of India’s Ministry of Health and Family Welfare comprises of Department of Health and Family welfare and Department of Health Research. The major programs run by the Ministry are for eradication of communicable diseases like HIV/AIDS, Tuberculosis, Vector Borne diseases, Integrated Disease surveillance program for communicable diseases and Leprosy; non communicable disease control for diseases like, iodine deficiency disorder, National Oral Health Program, National Mental Health Program, National Program for Prevention and Control of Deafness and Blindness, Universal Immunization Program and Polio Eradication Program. Pradhan Mantri Swasthya Suraksha Yojna was initiated in 2004 for correcting regional imbalances in the availability of affordable and reliable tertiary healthcare services and also to augment facilities for quality medical education in the countryby setting up AIIMS and Medical Colleges all over the country. The Ministry also runs Poor Patients’ Financial Assistance Program, under which the ministry provides grants aid for treatment of the underprivileged through Health Minister’s Cancer Patients Fund, Rashtriya Arogya Nidhi – a revolving fund and Health Minister’s Discretionary Grant. Different budgetary provisions are made under each of these programs. To upgrade the health infrastructure facilities, the Ministry of Health and Family Welfares provides grants to state governments. Other National health programs include Rashtriya Varishth Jan Swasthya Yojana, an extension of tertiary level activities of National Program for Health Care of the Elderly (NPHCE) during 12th Five Year Plan, National Program for Prevention and Control of Fluorosis (NPPCF) and National Tobacco Control Program (NTCP). The Rashtriya Swasthya Bima Yojna is another major program of MoHFW for providing health insurance in order to get treated in the empaneled hospitals.
How ICT is being used
Information and Communication Technology are being widely used for reporting, educating, medical consulting and counseling, monitoring and evaluation of programs run by the ministry. Recently, the Online Appointment and Queue Management System along with Electronic Health Records and Digital Health Records of patients have been introduced in premier Government Health facilities including AIIMS. The government is planning to introduce this system in all the states and integrate it with digital health cards.
In order to provide specialized medical consultation facilities to remote locations, the telemedicine system is also initiated at few locations.
The National AIDS Control Organization, which was a separate department under Ministry of Health and Family Welfare has used BI and GIS system to monitor the Remote Reporting Units and track the infected patients and their treatment.
A countrywide Information and Communication Technology (ICT) network connecting all District Headquarters, State Headquarters, major medical colleges and Central Surveillance Unit (CSU) at National Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) has been established with support from National Informatics Centre (NIC) and Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO). Central Surveillance Unit has been established with the funding of World Bank and 9 States, viz., Andhra Pradesh, Gujarat, Karnataka, Maharashtra, Punjab, Rajasthan, Tamil Nadu, Uttarakhand and West Bengal. Under Integrated Disease Surveillance Program (IDSP), data is collected on epidemic prone diseases on weekly basis (Monday – Sunday) and the trend is closely monitored. On the basis of this report, Rapid Response Teams are created to diagnose and control the outbreak.
o monitor the performance of NRHM (National Rural Health Mission) program, the Health Management Information System (HMIS) Portal was launched in November 2008. This is a web-based application softwarewhich has been developed to collect, compile and disseminate data/ information on various critical parameters of health sector from facilities level. Currently, all the districts of the state and UTs are reporting on the HMIS system.
Central Government Health Scheme (CGHS), a health care facility for Central Government employees and pensioners, has introduced plastic health cards with unique ID, which is completely computerized for validation in the entire country. The aimof this initiativeis to deter any misuse of the CGHS cards. The Electronic Health Record of CGHS patients are linked with the Drug Distribution System. Also, an SMS facility has been integrated with CGHS computerization module.
How ICT can further revolutionize the health program in the country
Currently, there are different programs running in the ministry which are working in silos, although the links are provided over the website. All these are to be linked together for a comprehensive Decision Support System. Along with, it is also essential that through Web Services, the states’ HMIS and Disease data is integrated so that the decision making can be strengthened towards the provision of ‘Health for All’. By further adopting the statistical mechanism for prediction and forecasting, the disease burden and the infrastructure demand analysis can be done centrally. The Electronic Health Record System, standardized codes of treatment and medicines, plus drug surveillance can be adopted in practice for the health system upgradation and timely provision of treatment and drugs to the needy. Teleconsultancy facilities at Public Health Centres can be planned for specialized health services at remote location. ICT based unified blood bank system can help to inventorise the blood available at different blood banks in the country. Similar facility can also ease the organ transfer system.
How vayam is pitching in
Vayam Technologies is specialized in Data analytics on different commercial and open source platform, providing data cleaning, data validation and statistical modeling and reporting solution. The comprehensive data analytics solution involves Data Assimilation, Platform Creation, Data Cleaning, Data Integration, Dash Board, Analytics and Reporting, Demand Forecasting, Inventory Optimization, Predictive Modeling and GIS. One of the unique capabilities is to provide a BI-GIS Integrated Decision Support System, which along with statistical dashboard reveals the spatial pattern and trend of the indicators.
Vayam has provided data analytics and reporting solution to National AIDS Control Organization and Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, whereby facilities are reporting on web-based platform on regular intervals and the assimilated data is then analyzed and different types of reports are generated for decision support system, including the reporting status of Health facilities, Indicator queries, minimum-maximum range, weighted matrix, score cards, etc. The dash board provides a glimpse of the analyzed and streamlined data at one go. The GIS integration provides geographical pattern of the same analysis, proving inter-facility, inter-district, inter-state comparison of performance of different health indicators.
The writer is the Executive Director of Vayam Technologies Limited