PMDHM a game-changer in Indian healthcare, offers unlimited opportunities: Dr Sudarshan Ballal

Nandita Vijay, BengaluruMonday, October 4, 2021, 08:00 Hrs  [IST]

The Pradhan Mantri Digital Health Mission (PMDHM) throws up limitless opportunities and could be a game-changer in the field of healthcare in our country. This is a revolutionary concept and may also be one of the largest digital missions in the world, said Dr Sudarshan Ballal, chairman, Manipal Hospitals.  

The mission will predominantly address the issues of the less privileged population and those of the lower middle class. It is useful as a tool towards Universal Health Coverage and a continuum of care where the data can be transferred from one hospital to another and will significantly reduce the risk of medical errors. For instance, in the US, 100,000 people succumb annually due to medical errors and in India the situation is worse, he added.

Technologies deployed would be a combination of telemedicine and remote monitoring where the data will be stored on the Cloud for access by medical teams adhering to patient privacy. Artificial intelligence (AI) will help to compute data on the patient’s health condition. During the pandemic, one of the most common tests performed was the high-resolution computed tomography (HRCT) of the chest. For the data generated, AI was able to reveal whether the scan was normal or not. Similar patterns will emerge with this digital health mission. With access to extensive data, medical experts can focus on what to look for in a set of ill-health conditions. Even in a sudden spurt of viral infections, an epidemiologist could alert and nip the spread early, noted the Manipal Hospital chief.

Under the mission, a patient gets a unique ID, doctors and medical facilities can enroll to deliver healthcare. The big benefit is that medical records of patients can be accessed when they take multiple opinions for their health condition and will not need to repeat expensive tests. India is known for its high diabetic population and here the PMDHM will be a great tool to help manage the non-communicable disease burden. Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s effort to promote the digital health mission is a big leap for medical care in the country, Dr Ballal told Pharmabiz.

Manipal Hospitals already has systems in place with medical data across all our hospitals in the country like other corporate medical centres. Hence, once a patient enrolls for the programme, this data can be shared across various hospitals, he said.

Corporate hospitals in the country have made substantial investments into digital health technology which received a big boost during the Covid times. Hiring specifically for PMDHM will depend on the workload and what happens over the months when there could be a need to appoint digital technology professionals which at the moment is a little premature to speculate now, said Dr Ballal.