Saturday, November 4, 2017

How to successfully Implement Digital Health in India

The first chief clinical information officer (CCIO) of NHS England, Keith McNeil, has resigned from his role in August 2017, being barely 13 months in the job. NHS England has now hired Odgers Berndtson to help find a replacement, who should be a "Visionary leader with a track record of leading the development and implementation of national information and data strategies to transform health services." The Health and Care system in England is seeking an outstanding CCIO to lead this exciting agenda, commissioning and delivering data and technology services that will achieve the ambitions of the NHS Five Year Forward View and the Department of Health’s shared delivery plan. The CCIO has to provide clinical leadership to a team of strategy, technology and policy specialists, driving the national information and technology agenda for healthcare delivery.

One of the roles to be played by the CCIO is to chair the National Information Board and to be a member of the Digital Delivery Board, the governance body for the technology investment program, ensuring the effective delivery of information and technology programs and live services across the portfolio.

The basic qualifications, for the post, have to be a registered nurse, medical professional or allied health professional with significant senior clinical experience and a substantial track record of management of multi-disciplinary teams.

The Digital Delivery Board, which replaced the Department of Health’s (DoH) Informatics Portfolio Management Board, is the new governing body for the government’s technology investment program. Former CCIO Keith McNeil was appointed chair of the board in September 2016.

Let us look at similar efforts in India.

The National Health Policy 2017 of India  states that recognizing the integral role of technology (eHealth, mHealth, Cloud, Internet of Things or IoT, wearables) in the healthcare delivery, a National Digital Health Authority (NDHA) will be set up to regulate, develop and deploy digital health across the continuum of care. The first task that the proposed NDHA will need to carry out is the formulation of a robust National Digital Health Strategy, in consultation with all the stakeholders, for smooth adoption of digital health throughout India.

The National Health Policy-2017 advocates extensive deployment of digital tools for improving the efficiency and outcome of the healthcare system. The policy aims at an integrated health information platform or system which serves the needs of all stake-holders and improves efficiency, transparency, and citizen experience. Delivery of better health outcomes in terms of access, quality, affordability, lowering of disease burden and efficient monitoring of health entitlements to citizens, is the goal. Establishing federated national health information architecture, to roll-out and link systems across public and private health providers at State and national levels consistent with Metadata and Data Standards (MDDS) and Electronic Health Record (EHR) Standards, will be supported by this policy.

Hopefully successful and well trained healthcare delivery professionals with clinical, informatics and management skills will be entrusted to lead and coordinate such efforts to usher in Digital Health in India.

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