Stack and blueprint — Building digital infrastructure for national health database

Details : In News:

  • A Committee headed by former IT secretary J Satyanarayana has  submitted the final report of National Digital Health Blueprint (NDHB) to Union Health Ministry.


  • In 2018, India launch of Ayushman Bharat, the world’s largest state-funded health insurance programme.
  • It is a component of India’s slow but certain progress towards Universal Health Coverage (UHC).
  • Effective use of technology is critical to meet the challenge of making quality and affordable healthcare accessible to every one of India’s 135 crore citizens.
  • To this end, NITI Aayog unveiled the National Health Stack and now the Satyanarayana committee has prepared the National Digital Health Blueprint for the implementation of NHS.

About: National Health Stack (NHS)

  • NHS is digital infrastructure built with the aim of making the health insurance system more transparent and robust, while factoring in the uniqueness of India’s health sector, and the political realities of federalism.
  • It was unveiled by the NITI Aayog in 2018.
  • There are five components of NHS:
    • An electronic national health registry that would serve as a single source of health data for the nation
    • A coverage and claims platform that would serve as the building blocks for large health protection schemes, allow for expansion of schemes like Ayushman Bharat by states, and enable a robust system of fraud detection
    • A federated personal health records (PHR) framework that would serve the twin purposes of access to their own health data by patients, and the availability of health data for medical research (which is critical for advancing the understanding of human health)
    • A national health analytics platform that would provide a holistic view combining information on multiple health initiatives, and help smart policymaking
    • Other horizontal components including a unique digital health ID, health data dictionaries and supply chain management for drugs, payment gateways, etc., shared across all health programmes.

About: National Digital Health Blueprint (NDHB)

  • The NDHB is the architectural document for the implementation of the NHS.
  • Its vision is to create a national digital health ecosystem that supports universal health coverage in an efficient, accessible, inclusive, affordable, timely and safe manner.
  • This will be aided through provision of a wide range of data, information, and infrastructure services, while ensuring the security, confidentiality and privacy of health-related personal information”.
  • Key features of the blueprint:
    • A suitable architecture
    • A unique health ID (UHID)
    • Privacy and consent management
    • National portability
    • Electronic health records
    • Applicable standards and regulations
    • Health analytics
    • Multiple access channels like call centres, Digital Health India portal, and the MyHealth app.
  • A total of 23 such building blocks have been identified in the blueprint for the NHS to become a viable reality.
  • National Digital Health Mission (NDHM) as the implementation agency:
    • NDHB highlighed the need to establish a specialised organisation, called the National Digital Health Mission (NDHM), that can drive the implementation of the blueprint, and promote and facilitate the evolution of a national digital health ecosystem.

Need for NHS:

  • Currently, apart from Ayushman Bharat-Pradhan Mantri Jan Arogya Yojana (AB-PMJAY), there are many secondary and tertiary care schemes running in the states.
  • These include Swasthya Sathi in West Bengal, Aarogyasri in Telangana, Chief Minister’s Comprehensive Health Insurance Scheme in Tamil Nadu, Mahatma Jyotiba Phule Jan Arogya Yojana in Maharashtra, etc.
  • Also, there is an urgent need for integration of the two arms of Ayushman Bharat:
    • Health and wellness centres – which constitute the primary care arm
    • PMJAY – which is the secondary and tertiary care arm under which the target is to provide 10.74 crore families with an annual health cover of Rs 5 lakh each.
  • Without integration, the goal of continuum of care cannot be met.
  • To this end, the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare has initiated efforts in the direction of a comprehensive, nationwide integrated e-Health system.
  • NHS will help in providing a common platform for integration of existing applications in health domain and data which has existed in silos, either in public health facilities, or, in private healthcare facilities, in India.
  • This has the potential to be the biggest leap of towards achieving the goal of Universal Healthcare Coverage (UHC) with impetus on the digital healthcare component.

India’s health sector Structure –

Image result for indian health sector

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