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India Digital Health Net


The India Digital Health Net (IDHN) is a Harvard-wide research and policy collaborative focused on the development of a patient-centric, provider-friendly, API-enabled health exchange ecosystem.

Our key partners in India include government agencies, healthcare enterprises, clinical providers and researchers from across the country.



India’s 1.3 billion people seek healthcare through a maze of public and private providers – the majority of these interactions are captured on hand-written paper records, or not at all. In January 2018, the Government of India announced what is potentially the world’s largest health insurance scheme, offering coverage for up to ₹500,000 (USD 7600) to approximately 500 million people. The need to monitor and evaluate services and payments for this vast insurance scheme will provide the impetus needed to jumpstart the health ecosystem.  This greenfield also allows India to envision a bold new architecture for digital health data that avoids the shackles of redundancy and inaccessibility faced by health information exchange in the United States.

The First 12 Months

For the proposed API-enabled, UPI-like technological spine to meet its game-changing potential, we foresee the following steps to scale, in the next 12 months:


  1. Prototype an EHR-lite that is tested at a range of institutions
  2. Prototype a Personal Health Record that exchanges data across multiple entities, including the NCD Screening and Management Tool, and the National Health Stack
  3. City-wide PHR demonstration in a major Indian city (2019 first quarter)
  4. Training, Development, and Testing across healthcare entities, chiefly, clinics, hospitals, laboratories, chemists (pharmacies), and public health agencies

Core Principles

Our team of scientists from India and Harvard are developing scalable prototypes for health data exchange that will build on the core principles outline in our ROADMAP, published here:; and on the Blue Book released by the NITI Aayog, available here:

  • A Federated Architecture underpinned by Personal Health Records
  • Prioritization of Patient and Population Needs over billing and compliance
  • Substitutability, that allows for a play-and-plug model of highly customizable applications that can address varying context-specific needs, and that respond to market incentives for better user-interfaces
  • Data-minimization that allows the creation of a “EHR-lite”
  • Technological solutions to ensure adherence to data and privacy regulations in India. Such Privacy by Design will be further supported by automated, consented and audited data flows.

Our partnership includes key research and healthcare institutions across the entire delivery system, including the St. John’s Research Institute (Bangalore), Seth G.S. Medical College & KEM Hospital (Mumbai), Government of India NCD Program and Dell EMC (Karnataka), iSPIRT, and primary care centers in both rural and urban India, committed to training, capacity building, prototyping and developing a federated API-enabled exchange ecosystem. The proposed model will avoid expensive proprietary health information silos and monolithic homogenous EMRs with centralized repositories, both of which are riddled with concerns for security, timely data transfer, usability, and high physician burnout.