Establishing the National eHealth Authority can lead to better protected medical records

Ministry of Health and Family Welfare (MoHFW) of the Government of India has proposed the establishment of a National eHealth Authority (NeHA) to oversee incorporation of information and communication technologies into the healthcare industry.

Currently private organisations and stakeholders create and track records independently. The data is often trapped in silos and unavailable to healthcare professionals when needed. A lack of standards and regulations mean that the medical records of patients are hosted on unsafe public servers, which can be accessed by malicious agents. Recently, BuzzFeed posted an article where medical records of of over 43,000 patients was compromised, including those of HIV patients.

The formation of NeHA would mean the establishment of standard and consistent practices for identity management, data entry, data retrieval, messaging, data encryption and reporting. The MoHFW has taken efforts to ensure that medical records of patients are secured by formulating standard practices for Electronic Medical Records (EMR) and Electronic Health Records (EHR).

The “EMR/EHR Standards for India” devised after extensive discussions with stakeholders, and notified by the Government in 2013 itself. In 2014, India joined the International Health Terminology Standards Development Organisation (IHTSDO) as a member state.

NeHA has to be created by an Act of Parliament. The Consultation Note for NeHA is waiting for comments by the public. There is a need to quickly drive adoption of EHR and EMR standards across the country so that medical records can be used appropriately, and securely stored.

Published Date: Dec 07, 2016 02:55 pm | Updated Date: Dec 07, 2016 02:55 pm