Wednesday, May 11, 2016

E-Health Laws And Regulations In India Are Needed For Digital India Project

Healthcare is a priority aspect for governments across the world. However, despite the urgency for an effective healthcare system, timely and cost effective healthcare services are not readily available. This is more so in developing nations where healthcare services are very poor and are available to selective few only.

There are many facets of technology driven healthcare industry in India. These include online pharmacies, telemedicine, e-health, m-health, etc. India is yet to start working on these aspects on the fronts of technology and legal frameworks. We have no dedicated online pharmacy, telemedicine, e-health, m-health, data protection (pdf), privacy and other related techno legal framework in India as on date.

However, some positive steps have been taken by successive governments in India. For instance, the Electronic Health Record (EHR) Standards of India have been prescribed and establishment of a National E-Health Authority (NeHA) of India has also been proposed. Further, if we remove the shortcomings of Digital India project then the same can be used for e-health purposes as well. Digital India is presently suffering from lack of cyber security and absence of civil liberties protection in India. Another limitation of Digital India that it inherited from its predecessor National e-Governance Plan (NeGP) is absence of mandatory e-delivery of services in India. As on date there is no mandatory obligation to provide e-delivery of services in India and this is sufficient to avoid the same.

It has been reported that the health ministry of India has worked out a detailed e-health project under digital India initiative of the government. The project would include hospital information system, electronic health record facilitated with health information exchange, online delivery of services, citizen portal, online monitoring systems for services and others. The health ministry is also developing a digital platform - Integrated Health Information Platform (IHIP) - to enable creation of inter-operable health record which can be made available and accessible nationwide.

Perry4Law Organisation (P4LO) welcomes this initiative of health ministry. However, we also strongly recommend that a techno legal regulatory framework must be urgently formulated by Indian government to manage the complicated issues of Indian cyberspace and Digital India. We also recommend that telemedicine and online pharmacy laws must be complied with by the businesses and entrepreneurs of India that are ignored presently. Similarly, legal issues of cloud computing in India must also be kept in mind by e-health service providers of India. We hope these issues would be considered by Indian government while formulating an e-health related law in India.

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