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Government to reconsider issuing of Electronic Health Cards

Government to reconsider issuing of Electronic Health Cards
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Highlights

The government is rethinking on its new initiative, the introduction of Electronic Health Cards (EHC) to the patients in the general hospitals. Keeping aside the interests of the patients, the government seems to be bowing its head to the private lobby.

Visakhapatnam: The government is rethinking on its new initiative, the introduction of Electronic Health Cards (EHC) to the patients in the general hospitals. Keeping aside the interests of the patients, the government seems to be bowing its head to the private lobby.

Highly placed sources in the government, say that the introduction of the EHCs is being opposed by some groups including pharmaceuticals and some sections of influential persons in the government. With this, the government has been rethinking on introduction of EHCs in the state, the sources added.

Highlights:

  • The move, expectedly has raised divergent opinions among doctors and consumer activists
  • Highly placed sources in the government say that the introduction of the EHCs is being opposed by some groups including pharmaceuticals and some sections of influential persons in the government
  • EHCs are expected to examine the authenticity of the diagnosis, medicines or procedures prescribed in case of allegations related to negligence of doctors and paramedical staff and making the healthcare system more accountable and transparent

To make the diagnosis procedures at the government hospitals paper-free and ensure transparency in the treatment in the hospitals, the government had taken an initiative to introduce the EHCs. Right from the admission of the patient, his/her condition of health at the time of admission, diagnostic results, treatment, medicines given and timings of tests etc. all the details will be digitised in the EHCs. In other words, it will be a complete health digitised document of the patient.

According to senior officials in medical and health ministry, hospitals will have a special database in which data pertaining to the EHCs will be stored so that it can be retrieved as and when required.

Expert doctors, heads of the departments and their associates can review the patient’s health status at any time by utilising the data stored the EHCs. The move will also help examine the authenticity of the diagnosis, medicines or procedures prescribed in case of allegations related to negligence of doctors.

After the government’s announcement in January, some of the doctors welcomed the initiative. Meanwhile, AP Government Doctors Association is also opposing the EHC in the present conditions. Unless several long pending issues are cleared, such initiatives are useless, the members of the APGDA pointed out.

However, consumer forum activists and others are welcoming the decision and demanding the government to not rollback the new initiative as it could be more useful to the patients. "It is a welcome move to make doctors more accountable. But, the fact is there is no rule book to treat patients.

In emergency cases, doctors take some crucial decisions or administer powerful medicines to save patients’ life, but even then the latter may die. With the new system, the doctors may not take risk of administering high power medicines, fearing that they might be prosecuted, if the patient’s condition turns worse,”, one of the senior doctors of KGH opined with a condition of anonymity.

“For the last three decade the government is not increasing the doctors’ strength as against the rise in the number of patients. After bifurcation, the government wrote a letter to centre seriously for increasing MLA seats. Since 1987, there is no additional sanction of doctor posts.

In developed countries one doctor mostly examine15/20 patients, but in our state one doctor is attending more than 70/90 patients. For maintenance of the EHCs more number of staff is needed including more number of doctors and infrastructure. Is the government ready to provide? enquired P Shyam Sundar, Secretary General of AP Government Doctors Association.

“It is a very good initiative and everyone should support it. When everything is going to be digitised the health record of the patients is also to be digitised. The patient has a right to know about his treatment being provided in the hospital. Any new initiative or change there will be some issues and problems arise

Those who are opposing the EHCs should reveal their doubts and demand what they need. But, opposing is not correct. EHCs will guard the interests of the patients,” President, District Consumer Forum - I, Visakhapatnam Bulusu C.V Surya Bhaskaram said.

By VKL Gayatri

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