Can data save lives?

Imagine if all of your personal health data is available on a single digital platform! You could also possibly run some tools over it to figure out the best possible medical programs for you- or government could use it to gauge overall health of a nation.

The idea is not too far-fetched since Indian Government recently launched a policy called National Open Digital Ecosystem (NODE). One of it’s main focus would be to accumulate citizen’s health data that is currently scattered across various platforms in the country. The initiative is expected to:

  • issue guidelines for states, departments, ministries and private institutions to bring all of their data in a common format.
  • instruct the different parties involved to allow interoperability between datasets stored in different organizations.
  • design an overlay on top of this combination that will serve the purpose of a digital public health platform with common architecture.
  • use AI and data analytics technique to introduce potential health reforms across the country.
  • permit the private companies gain access to that data so as to provide better health service to its citizens.

In terms of benefits:

  • citizens get a seamless and consistent experience across various health-related platforms.
  • entrepreneurs have additional revenue streams of providing highly personalized services.
  • government benefit from data driven decision-making which increases efficacy of policies.

While the scheme is ambitious, openness of data and technology architecture increases the risk of misuse. Therefore, security aspect of such a platform should be given the attention that it deserves. We might need the Personal Data Protection Bill to come out before this initiative is rolled out to ensure that our data will be not sold, misused or leaked. To have both preventive and corrective measures in place, NODE must also proactively build a strong governance framework.

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