With a view to ensure that the Indian eHealth initiative is on par with the international standards, healthcare experts want the government to take pro active measures towards adopting and strengthening its eHealth programme by focusing on the need for setting up standards and interoperability for the same. Experts feel that it is high time for the government to formulate strong set of guidelines for eHealth programme, focused on providing technology driven healthcare services to larger spectrum of patients across the country.
Interestingly, earlier this month, the World Health Organization (WHO) had a joint inter-ministerial policy dialogue on eHealth standardisation and interoperability at its headquarters in Geneva. Wherein, the United Nations (UN) agency for health, and WHO equivocally recognised the strategic role of information and communication technologies (ICTs) and medical devices in support of health systems to achieve universal health coverage in countries.
Rajendra Pratap Gupta , chairman , of Continua Health Alliance -IWG who represented India at this international forum stressed that implementing health data standards to achieve interoperability is fundamental to harnessing the full potential of ICTs and medical devices in support of health systems in countries. He stressed that since India is in its nascent stage of adopting eHealth imitative, it would be imperative and more logical to adopt interoperability at at earlier stage when its easy to adopt, especially since it is already an accepted set of standards globally.
Gupta asserted,“Interoperability is a patient safety issue and any compromise will impact the diagnosis and treatment or both, putting the patients at risk. Today there is an urgent need for full adoption of standards for interoperability at national and sub-national levels. To attain this, it is essential for the government to first understand the key policy issues in eHealth standardisation and interoperability and also expert insights on how to overcome regulatory and administrative barriers in standards adoption.”
He further pointed out that now that the Continua Health Alliance guidelines have been accepted by ITU as the interoperability standard for eHealth globally, it would be the right step if the MOHFW also to accept the same, taking India at par with the global standards on interoperability. “Most importantly, we strongly feel that all medical devices and softwares must address this issue before getting into the solution development. If they fail to do so, and adopt these standards in the later stage of product or solution development, it would mean a lot of work, loss of time and additional investment for redoing the systems again,” Gupta added.
Continua Health Alliance (Continua), an international not-for-profit industry group, is the leading organisation convening global technology industry standards to develop end-to-end, plug-and-play connectivity for personal connected health .