Roundup: India's NHA releases proposed design for UHI, New Zealand's national vax system goes live and more briefs

India’s National Health Authority seeks comments on UHI project

The National Health Authority of India is seeking comments from the public on its proposed Unified Health Interface project, which is envisioned to be an open, interoperable platform connecting digital health solutions.

Ahead of the implementation of the National Digital Health Mission (NDHM), the agency has released a consultation paper outlining the UHI’s prospective design, scope and role. In a statement, the NHA said it wanted to ensure the project is designed and developed in a “collaborative and consultative manner”.

A news report noted that patients and providers are presently required to use the same applications to avail and provide digital health services, respectively. 

The UHI project, whose design is similar to the Unified Payments Interface ecosystem for digital payments, is intended to create an open network where patients and providers can discover, book, pay and fulfil various digital health services, such as teleconsultations, across applications.

The NDHM, which was piloted last year in August across six union territories, aims to transform the way digital health services are rendered in India. 

“NDHM is endeavouring to make digital public goods for the healthcare industry to make it more accessible, affordable and efficient. To facilitate this, we are taking a consultative approach to develop the National Digital Health Ecosystem,” NHA CEO Dr Ram Sewak Sharma said. 

The NHA is receiving comments and feedback via email until 23 August. 

Over 100,000 bookings made on first-day rollout of Book My Vaccine in New Zealand

New Zealand’s national vaccination booking system went online this week, enabling 105,811 bookings on its first day. 

This latest count brings the total number of future bookings via the Book My Vaccine system to nearly 950,000, the Health Ministry claimed. Above seven in 10 seniors have either been vaccinated or are already scheduled for inoculation, it added. 

In a statement, New Zealand’s Director-General of Health Ashley Bloomfield noted that the rollout of the system on 28 July was a “resounding success”. 

All 20 District Health Boards in the country are using the Book My Vaccine system which the government developed using the Salesforce Skedulo plugin to integrate with the National COVID-19 Immunisation Register. The booking system is also backed by a dedicated national call centre. 

Indonesia’s Health Ministry eyes nationwide health data integration

Indonesia’s Ministry of Health is working towards integrating citizen’s health data across platforms for improving the quality of public health.

The plan, according to Health Minister Budi Gunadi Sadikin, is to combine data from routine public health checks in hospitals and digital treatment platforms, medicines and records of health activities from smartwatches. 

He was cited in a news report as saying that artificial intelligence will be used to create a security mechanism or sandbox that can store the data of 200 million Indonesians. 

Minister Sadikin said the government will first craft standard requirements to enable clinicians access to people’s health data. 

According to the news report, the initiative was inspired by the use of Big Data and IoT in creating new vaccines and drugs. 

Taiwan’s epidemiological investigation platform goes live

The Centres for Disease Control of Taiwan has announced the launch of the Central Epidemic Command Centre’s latest platform to keep track of emerging COVID-19 cases in the country.

The Epidemiological Investigation Assistance platform launched early in the week is a system that shows hotspot areas, tracks locations under investigation, and uses a contract tracing text messaging service.  

In a statement, Taiwan’s CDC said the platform is strictly used by authorised personnel who are conducting epidemiological surveillance in local governments. 

The system’s launch follows the relaxed enforcement of COVID-19 restrictions in the country as cases continue to fall. Taiwan lowered its epidemic alert level from 3 to 2, which allows the gathering of 50 people indoors and 100 people outdoors, among other guidelines.

With its relatively small population, Taiwan has recorded above 15,600 COVID-19 cases and 787 deaths. It has so far administered 7.58 million doses of vaccine against the disease. 

NZHIT presses government to invest in digital health tech research

Digital health industry group New Zealand Health IT has urged the government to prioritise investing in digital health technology research for disease monitoring, among other concerns.

In managing health crises like COVID-19, the country “needs to buy into digital tools”, the organisation said. It noted that during the pandemic, digital technology has supported the country’s ability to assess the impact of policies targeted at social distancing, thus fostering evidence-based action. 

“We should revisit past lessons and take strategic action. We need to invest in digital technology to prepare for future health crises. Our response to the global health crisis demonstrated the vital importance of a strong and vibrant research sector,” NZHIT General Manager Ryl Jensen said.

NZHIT’s appeal comes following the Health Ministry’s latest investment in research on some of the country’s biggest health concerns, including cancer, diabetes, and heart disease. 

In a statement, Jensen made the case for supporting research in digital technologies in the healthcare system.

She noted that digital health data research can drive the development of predictive models that can quickly identify high-risk patients, as well as present multi-variable patient-specific factors to support and enhance clinical decision making.

Jensen also said that research into health data science is a “key tool” to enhance care systems and develop new products, which will provide consumers with new means to improve their own health and wellbeing.

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