Digital Health In India: The National Digital Health Mission (NDHM)

“Good health is not something we can buy. However, it can be an extremely valuable savings account.”
– Anne Wilson Schaef

The Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, Government of India, has formulated the National Digital Health Mission (NDHM), aiming to develop structures for incorporating digital health framework in the country. National Health Authority (NHA) is responsible for arranging advanced techniques, developing research institutes, and implementation of “National Digital Health Mission.” NHA is the most elevated body for the execution of “Ayushman Bharat-Pradhan Mantri Jan Arogya Yojana (AB-PMJAY).” The NDHM is a common link between numerous ministries and departments.

Its vision is to establish a national computerized health system that will maintain all the data related to health in a compelling, open, extensive, sensible, ideal, and safe manner and a steady online arrangement through the plan of a wide extent of data, information, and establishment organizations, appropriately using open, interoperable, standards-based advanced systems, and ensures the security and insurance of health-related information of every individual. The NDHM has been formulated by the Government as per the guiding principle stated in the National Digital Health Blueprint (NDHB).

PM Narendra Modi’s announcement of a National Health ID for every Indian can be traced back to a 2018 NITI Aayog suggestion to make an aggregated record of every individual in the National Health Stack. The National Health Policy 2017 formulates the creation of a computerized health advancement system specifically focusing on the consolidated health information structure that serves all the necessities and further creates adequacy, straightforwardness, and citizens inclusion in the system across government and private hospitals and health care centers.

As envisioned, diverse clinical assistance providers — like exigency facilities, research focus on research, insurance offices, online pharmacies, telemedicine firms — will be depended upon to look into the health ID structure. The framework layout points out that while the decision of computerized Health ID will be there, if an individual doesn’t possess a Health ID, then too further treatment should be allowed.

The current national advanced digital system—incorporating Aadhaar, Unified Payments Interface, and wide reach of the Internet and mobile phones (JAM trinity) — gives a strong stage for setting up the design squares of ABDM. The current ability to differentiate and recognize people, trained professionals, and healthy workplaces, work with digital imprints, ensure non-repudiable arrangements, make paperless portions, securely store computerized records, and contact people to offer choices to streamline clinical data.

Ayushman Bharat—Pradhan Mantri Jan Arogya Yojana (AB-PMJAY) has viably used the available national advanced system to initiate services through an information technology (IT) stage via recognizing treatment records of beneficiaries in a paperless and hassle freeway. The experience of AB-PMJAY can be used to develop the extent of advanced health services for the entire populace and initiate health systems that can accommodate citizens, suppliers, and the government.

The implementation of ABDM deals with the proficiency, viability, and straightforwardness of health organizations. Patients will need to securely store and access their clinical records (like prescriptions, diagnosis reports, etc.) for the clinical benefits providers to ensure treatment and regular follow-up. In that situation, the treatment can be done more accurately with access to every past clinical record. Further, they will have the option to get to health organizations remotely through teleconsultation and e-pharmacies.

Health ID will be used to incredibly perceive individuals, affirm them, and declare their health records (with the prior consent of the patient) across various organizations. Health ID is created by using Aadhaar numbers, which are unique for everyone. Health ID can be acquired with the help of anyone who is in the national health organization or through online registration. Each Health ID will be associated with a health data consent admin (like NDHM), which will be used to search for the patient’s consent and think about the predictable movement of health information from the singular health records module.

NDHM Digital Framework

NDHM will carry out the accompanying digital frameworks in the country as follows:

  • Health ID: Implementation of a Unique Health ID (UHID), particularly like an Aadhaar ID, to recognize and approve singularity on past health records. To make a wide association of health records, the data will in like manner be granted to various agencies by consent of the individual
  • Digi Doctor: A storage facility of experts with details of an individual like name, establishment, capacity, specialization, and a significant length of association among other central nuances.
  • Health Facility Register (HFR): A vault of Health Facilities all across the country. HFR will be made operational for normalized information of private and National health offices in India.
  • Personal Health Records (PHR): A PHR is a digital record of an individual which would contain health-related information of that individual. The data contained in PHR could be drawn from different sources and will be supervised and compelled by the individual, who can revive/modify information.
  • Digital Medical Records (EMR): An application that contains the clinical and treatment history of a patient. EMR is a digital system that would have broad health-related information of a patient at an office; this would help clinicians follow their patients, screen their health, and suggest preventive check-ups and screenings.

In 2005, the UK’s National Health Service (NHS) started the system of digital health record structures to have all patients with a united digital health authority by 2010. While a few clinics procured digital patient records frameworks as a feature of this cycle, there was no exchange of medical services data at the national level. The program was terminated after an expense for the UK taxpayer, which was more than £12 billion and was shown as one of the costliest medical failures.


Rhythma Kaul, PM Modi to roll out National Digital Health Mission on Sep 27, Hindustan Times, September 24, 2021

Prabha Raghavan, Pranav Mukul, Explained: What is the National Health ID, announced by PM Narendra Modi?, The Indian Express, September 27, 2021

Aparna Banerjea, PM Modi to launch National Digital Health Mission tomorrow: Key points, Mint, September 26, 2021

Manu Balachandran, Why the National Digital Health Mission could be a gamechanger, Forbes India, August 28, 2020

About NHA, National Health Authority, Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, Government of India

About Ayushman Bharat Digital Mission (ABDM), National Health Authority, Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, Government of India