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India integrates traditional healthcare grid to its National Digital Health Mission

The Ministry of Ayurveda, Yoga and Naturopathy, Unani, Siddha and Homoeopathy (AYUSH) was formed to ensure the optimal development and propagation of AYUSH systems of health care. These Indan health systems are indigenous,  traditional sciences have been recognised globally as sound and effective. The ministry focuses specifically on the development of education and research in Ayurveda, Yoga and Naturopathy, Unani, Siddha and Homoeopathy.

The Digital India Movement initiated by the government of India has taken significant steps towards the deployment of technology. The country has seen tremendous improvement in the application of Information Technology (IT) in ministries, agencies and programmes. Health is a major focus of the nations and implementation of IT in healthcare is being accelerated to provide effective and better care for citizens of India.

The Ministry of AYUSH has made much headway in getting healthcare Information technology (health-tech) integrated into its projects. Towards this goal, the ministry created the AYUSH GRID to encompass all IT projects under one umbrella. This integration of IT projects is exclusively meant for improvement and facilitation of AYUSH pan India. The grid covers all verticals of the sector, like health services, education, AYUSH research, central sector and centrally sponsored schemes, training programmes, drug licencing portal and media outreach.

The initiative is a poised to emerge as a game-changer as it is the first of its kind citizen-centric service from that will provide Electronic Health Record and Personal Health Records facilities to the recipients of AYUSH Health Services catered through Research Councils, National Institutes and other related agencies under Ministry of AYUSH.

The digitalisation of the entire AYUSH Sector will lead to transformation in fields of healthcare delivery at all levels. This will be beneficial for all stakeholders of AYUSH including citizens of the country and, in turn, will help achieve various national and global goals in healthcare. The AYUSH Grid has steadily developed through its constituent projects and is expected to become the most comprehensive IT system serving 800,000 AYUSH physicians and nearly 500  million citizens within three years.

The AYUSH Grid has now emerged as the IT-backbone for AYUSH Sector and is going to integrate operationally with the National Digital Health Mission. This step was endorsed at a high-level meeting.  Similarly, AYUSH Hospital Management System (A-HMIS) is a comprehensive IT platform designed to manage all functions of healthcare delivery systems and patient care in AYUSH facilities.

A-HMIS is one of the most significant initiatives implemented so far in the project. Originally based on ((THE Research Application Nexus (THERAN), developed in-house by the Siddha Research Council, Chennai, the A-HMIS has now emerged into a robust, cloud-based Information System used by nearly100 Clinical establishment of the AYUSH Ministry.   The government plans to rapidly enhance its scope. The ministry is preparing to deploy AHMIS to AYUSH units outside the Central Government umbrella so that the entire AYUSH sector can benefit.

Another feather in the AYISH Grid caps is the development of the AYUSH Sanjivani mobile app and the Yoga locator mobile app with a combined download of 600,000.

During the initial weeks of COVID-19 pandemic, the grid was able to support critical initiatives related to managing the health crisis, despite various lockdown related constraints. The ministry launched various crowd-sourcing activities to gather inputs as well as mobilise AYUSH volunteers. A COVID-19 dashboard was set up for real-time information.

Other successful projects implemented as part of Ayush Grid include the Telemedicine programme launched with C-DAC, as a pilot project for the Siddha system. Since lockdown, it is has served the Homoeopathy and Ayurveda systems as well.

AYUSH Next is an upcoming project that will support AYUSH education and is expected to go online soon.

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