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India National Health Authority Issues Hardware Guidelines for Healthcare Institutions

The National Health Authority (NHA) has issued hardware guidelines for state and union territory hospitals, clinics, and wellness centres. The aim is to promote digitsation in healthcare institutions. The guidelines briefly describe the required infrastructure for the efficient implementation of the Ayushman Bharat Digital Mission (ABDM), with a particular focus on quality patient care and the adoption of digital initiatives.

The guidelines provide a basic framework for the planning, assessment, and procurement of the IT hardware (including IT specifications of various hardware equipment) based on the size of the healthcare facility. It will enable healthcare providers to operate applications compliant with the ABDM.

ABDM is a national-level digital health ecosystem that intends to support universal health coverage (UHC) in an accessible, inclusive, and affordable manner, through the provision of big data and infrastructure services, and by leveraging open, interoperable, standards-based digital systems. At the same time, the government is keen on ensuring the security, confidentiality, and privacy of health-related personal information.

A press release quoted an NHA official as saying that the first step towards comprehensive ABDM implementation is the digitisation of hospitals. Several states and union territories have expressed the need for guidelines that give them an overview of the IT infrastructure requirements based on the health facility size. The document includes guidelines for desktops and laptops; printers; QR code readers; QR code printers; fingerprint scanners; uninterrupted power supply (UPS); and web cameras.

ABDM will connect the digital health solutions of hospitals and other health facilities across the country with each other. The digital ecosystem will also enable a host of other facilities like teleconsultation, paperless health records, QR code-based OPD registrations, etc. The digitisation of health records will ensure that old medical records of patients cannot get lost and are accessible to them anytime, anywhere. Ensuring the necessary IT infrastructure and implementation of hospital information management systems across health facilities at the state and union territory level will enable the seamless creation and exchange of digital health records across the ecosystem.

The guidelines published by NHA are suggestive and recommendatory in nature, the press release stated. States, union territories, and health facilities have the flexibility to modify these guidelines based on local requirements and circumstances.

In a bid to expand its digital capabilities, in June, NHA launched a public dashboard for real-time information about ABDM core registries, including Ayushman Bharat Health Account (ABHA) numbers, the Healthcare Professionals Registry (HPR), and the Health Facility Registry (HFR). As OpenGov reported, the dashboard displays data related to the number of ABHA generated, healthcare professionals registered, and digital health records linked with ABHA. It also has granular details about the number of health facilities (such as hospitals and laboratories) that are registered daily as well as the total number so far.

The dashboard provides information on national and state/union territory levels. The information is further segregated based on gender and age. For HFR, the dashboard presents the data through infographics based on ownership (government or private), systems of medicine, and state-wise facilities registered under the ABDM. Similarly, for the HPR, the dashboard segregates data based on the professional’s employment type (government or private sector), systems of medicine, and the state/union territory from where the applications have been received.

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