National Health Portal of India has been on our minds for a long time. This is the inside story of working for the national health portal of India which is scheduled for launch on 1st October 2013, almost four years after it first came under consideration. It’s a very optimistic project and a wordle created from the project report showcases that very well.
First, some history and background.
Backed by the National Knowledge Commission, a working group committee sent its Project Report on setting and developing the national health portal for India in August 2010. The NKC proposed to launch the National Health Information Portal which would serve as a comprehensive source on health information in India. The portal plans to serve as a single point of access for consolidated health information, application and resources on the sector and aim to cater to a wide spectrum of users from citizens, to students, healthcare professionals and researchers.
The proposal also aims to create space for other portals, publishers, IT and non IT based interventions. It is envisaged that private enterprises would join the government in creating new tools and services with the help of all the Data to be collected via NHP. This is a humungous task by any standards and the progress on the portal has been understandably slow.
A recent meet at AIIMS organized by HIMSS India and attended by Dr. Suptendra Nath Sarbadhikari, Project Director, Centre for Health Informatics of the National Health Portal cleared the mystery surrounding the progress of National Health Portal. During the meet, a lot of time was spent on stressing the need for Uniform Data Standards to be adopted so that all EHRs across the country (private and public hospitals) can be connected to the national health portal. With the addition of Prof. Indrajit Bhattacharya, the team at the National Health Portal is now well positioned to take this project forward.
The meet highlighted 3 main topics of discussion;
1) Data standards and Interoperability
2) Mobile apps for content distribution
3) Social Media Help desk and social networking activities
In order to accumulate data from various state health departments, government hospitals and private hospitals, we need a common system for entering the health data. The GOI has not yet taken the effort to set up a recommended set of data standards which can be followed by all hospitals and institutes while storing data. Unless data standards to be followed are finalized soon, linking/ merging of diverse sets of healthcare data will be close to impossible in the future.
Mobile apps and device agnostic websites were identified as an important next step in the project. The project objective is also to improve health literacy of the masses in India. One immediate hurdle for the National Health Portal is the need for authentic and high quality content in multiple languages. At this stage, It is not desirable that NHP spends its efforts and money creating original content for education of consumers and healthcare practitioners.Except for a core team (4 or 5) of graphic artists and subject matter experts to create interactive and visual media on a daily/weekly basis, the task of content creation could very well be outsourced. The NHP team can always validate the content after creation and before it is uploaded to the website. Besides, a lot of content is freely available from international sources like Centre For Disease Control (CDC) and World Health Organization which can be hot-linked on the portal. Professional content curation and dissemination via mobile apps will play a huge role in providing content for the National Health Portal.
Another important consideration at the NHP meet was the creation of a Social Media Helpdesk for the portal. Social Networking is the new fact of our connected lives today and the NHP plans to make full use of existing platforms like Facebook and Twitter to further its agenda. Social Networking would also be utilized via various health Forums planned on the portal. Social Media will be a key component of the content distribution strategy.
The National Health Portal will always be a work in motion. You, too, can have a say in how that happens. We have created a Facebook page for this project. You can join us on Facebook to share your views/suggestions as well as Tweet us your suggestions by using the hashtag #nhportal. We will make sure all tweets and comments are forwarded to the right authorities.
This update has also been shared on India Health Network website.