By Shipra Agarwal

The National Health Authority (NHA) of India recently launched the Ayushman Bharat Digital Mission under National Digital Health Mission (NDHM), one of the Government’s flagship Mission aligned with the Government of India for digitally-enabled, affordable and accessible health coverage for all. The mission aims to bridge the existing gap amongst different stakeholders of the Healthcare ecosystem through digital highways.

This abstract is based on the paper entitled “Electronic medical record. Privacy, confidentiality, liability by Melissa Steward. She wrote about Electronic Medical Records (EMR), a digital version of patient medical history containing critical physician information. Electric health records may decrease health care costs, increase the quality of patient care, create less paper confusion, allow access to digital images, and increase overall efficiency in the health care system. This could help us with all the relevant patient information at the point of care.

EMR can ease personal information collection, organization, retention, and exchange by an electronic storage system. On the other side, the traditional paper system may lead to inaccurate, incomplete, duplicative, and poorly documented” information. EMR can eliminate the inefficiency and inaccuracy of the traditional paper storage system.

Benefits of Electronic medical records:

  1. Electronic medical records can make hospitals more efficient by keeping all the patient’s personal and historical information, reducing medical errors, and lower health care costs.
  2. It can improve efficiency by instant access and faster emergency response to medical care. The increase in efficiency would increase accessibility and vice versa.
  3. It gives a cost-saving advantage to patients as the insurance company reduce premiums based on electronic documentation that offers a strong defence against claims of substandard care.

The increase in efficiency would increase accessibility, a development that may erode patient privacy.

If a national electronic medical record database became a reality. Does storing medical records electronically could result in a significant violation of patient privacy?

Access to a patient’s medical records is a significant concern for patient confidentiality. Unauthorized use of health records, hacking of confidential information, and the misuse of information should be protected to implement the Electronic medical record system effectively. Privacy is an essential element of adequate healthcare. The willingness of patients to share personal details and information with health care providers will be based on the trust to keep their confidentiality in the process.

If medical records are not appropriately safeguarded, patients may become reluctant to give their physician all information relevant to their treatment. Therefore, privacy concerns cannot be taken for granted, and they should be seriously addressed. Unless confidentiality and privacy concerns regarding electronic medical records are addressed, the full benefits of electronic technology in the health care industry will not be obtained. In the light of the National Digital Health Mission, the necessary steps can be considered before implementing Electronic medical records. First is the more robust protection for private patient information, and secondly, the methods of adequately sanctioning invasions of privacy.