How are e-health services regulated in India? Vandana Pai Bharucha and Aakanksha Pagnis explain
A recent report states that as of September 2016, the Indian healthcare sector had seen 88 investment deals totalling US$397.41 million. Of these, 73 investment deals amounting to US$113.45 million related to healthcare startups. A number of these companies provide “e-health services”, hailed as one of the pillars of the Digital India campaign.
The term e-health essentially covers any business model combining healthcare services and technology. It covers services as diverse as telemedicine (the remote provision of healthcare services including diagnostics and education using telecommunication technology); m-health (medical and health practices supported by mobile and other wireless devices); electronic health records (conversion of patient records and data into electronic form); online e-health learning platforms (web applications allowing medical professionals to form communities, exchange information and discuss cases); e-pharmacies (the sale of medicines online); on-call healthcare services (providing healthcare services to consumers at home or outside of clinics and hospitals), etc.
While many e-health services are unregulated, the Indian government is increasingly recognizing their importance and seeking to formulate appropriate regulations. Key initiatives recently taken by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare include:
- Launching the National Rural Telemedicine Network for e-healthcare delivery;
- Notifying the Electronic Health Record Standards on 30 December 2016, which include standards for patient identification, architectural requirements, e-prescriptions and data ownership; and
- Proposing the setting up of a National e-Health Authority.