Privacy by Design: A Key Principle of ABDM
In a significant move towards enhancing healthcare services and ensuring data security, the Union Health Ministry of India has recently launched the Ayushman Bharat Digital Mission (ABDM). The mission aims to create a robust digital health ecosystem that enables seamless interoperability of health data, leading to the development of a comprehensive Electronic Health Record (EHR) for every citizen. ABDM follows the principle of “Privacy by Design” and embraces a federated digital architecture, eliminating the existence of any centralized data repository. This allows secure data exchange among authorized stakeholders only with the explicit consent of the patient. The National Health Authority is responsible for overseeing the implementation of ABDM.
Health Data Management Policy Ensures Privacy and Consent
To ensure the highest standards of privacy and data protection, the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare released the Health Data Management Policy (HDM Policy) on December 14, 2020. This policy serves as a comprehensive guidance document, outlining the minimum standards that all participants and stakeholders in the Ayushman Bharat Digital Mission ecosystem must adhere to. According to the policy, no health data shall be shared with any entity without obtaining prior consent from the individual. This measure ensures that sensitive health information remains secure and confidential.
Strengthening Security Measures
To fortify the security of ABDM’s IT infrastructure, the National Health Authority has partnered with a Ministry of Electronics and IT empaneled Tier 3 cloud service provider. This collaboration is geared towards designing, developing, implementing, operating, and maintaining the IT solutions required for the successful execution of the mission. Furthermore, the Chief Information Security Officer (CISO) and Data Protection Officer regularly review the security safeguards and take appropriate measures to update them, ensuring that the health data remains well-protected.
A Holistic Approach to IT Security
The Union Health Ministry has adopted a holistic approach to safeguard its IT system from critical security threats across all computational layers. This comprehensive model takes into account various security requirements, providing protection from a wide range of security threats. The model encompasses compliance, infrastructure, application, and other security domains, making the health ecosystem resilient and secure.
A Safer and Connected Healthcare System
With the launch of the Ayushman Bharat Digital Mission, India is embarking on a transformative journey towards a safer, more connected, and efficient healthcare system. The mission’s emphasis on privacy, consent, and robust security measures instills confidence in citizens that their health data is protected while allowing seamless access to essential healthcare services. ABDM is a crucial step towards realizing a digitally empowered healthcare future for the nation.