Health ministry issues revised electronic health record standards-2016

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The Union health ministry has issued the revised Electronic Health Record (EHR) standards-2016 which is a continuation of its earlier version. In many ways they reflect the growing confidence in the path correctly chosen earlier – providing a set of international and proven standards with focus towards achieving syntactic and semantic interoperability of health records.

The idea behind the introduction of EHR by the health ministry way back in 2013 is that any person in India can go to any health service provider or practitioner, any diagnostic centre or any pharmacy and yet be able to access and have fully integrated and always available health records in an electronic format, which is not only empowering but also the vision for efficient 21st century healthcare delivery.

The ministry had earlier in 2013 issued the EHR standards with an objective to introduce a uniform standard-based system for creation and maintenance of EHR by the healthcare providers in the country. EHR is a collection of various medical records that get generated during any clinical encounter or events.   

The need for an EHR can be understood from the fact that for a health record of an individual to be clinically meaningful it needs to be from conception or birth, at the very least. As one progresses through one’s life, every record of every clinical encounter represents a health-related event in one’s life. Each of these records may be insignificant or significant depending on the current problems that the person is suffering from. Thus, it becomes imperative that these records be available, longitudinally arranged as a time series, and be clinically relevant to provide a summary of the various healthcare events in the life of a person.

An EHR is a collection of various medical records that get generated during any clinical encounter or events. With rise of self-care and homecare devices and systems, nowadays meaningful healthcare data get generated 24×7 and also have long-term clinical relevance. The purpose of collecting medical records, as much as possible, are manifold – better and evidence based care, increasingly accurate and faster diagnosis that translates into better treatment at lower costs of care, avoid repeating unnecessary investigations, robust analytics including predictive analytics to support personalized care, improved health policy decisions based on better understanding of the underlying issues, etc., all translating into improved personal and public health. Without standards, a lifelong medical record is simply not possible, as different records from different sources spread across ~80+ years, potentially, needs to be brought meaningfully together. To achieve this, a set of pre-defined standards for information capture, storage, retrieval, exchange, and analytics that includes images, clinical codes and data is imperative.

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