Why India’s Health Ministry Needs A Chief Data Officer

chief data officer health ministry

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Similar to CDC in the US, does India’s health ministry also need a chief data officer skilled at getting the best out of the current epidemiological data?

India has been witnessing a surge in COVID-19 cases every day. With this, reports of multiple government initiatives to both keep residents safe as well as deal with the brunt of the pandemic on the economy has surfaced – efforts that depend on access to quality data sets. 

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The health services division of the world government is overflowing with data. Electronic health records, latest innovation, and advances in research—particularly in the territories of imaging and genomic sequencing—have given us volumes of clinical and biological data. Regardless, new streams of data alone cannot create new insights, and especially when they exist in silos, as is frequently the situation today. 

The healthcare industry that stands at the forefront of pandemic emergencies depends on data sets to plan their response to such crises. Healthcare companies are utilizing data from nations that were affected by COVID-19 to understand requirements for emergency clinic beds, face masks, and ventilators. 

The Current Situation

If you look at the current positions in the Indian government, the closest we may have to the technology leadership position of a CDO in the healthcare department is the Chief Director (Statistics) at the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare.

Among the chief data controllers listed at data.gov.in, we can see multiple positions, including scientists, joint secretaries, department heads, etc. Such leadership roles are not in line with what is truly needed to make the best of open health data sets.

We could see the same trend in the case of the Center for Disease Control (CDC) in the US, which is looking to hire a chief data officer to help with the epidemic data. THe premier agency that oversees national public health institutes, has now released a notification for the recruitment of a Chief Data Officer. 

The notification for such a hiring in the time of crisis has also shown how devoid our healthcare system is, even in a developed nation like the US, of the latest advancements in AI and ML.

A responsive data strategy would include the capability to share electronic health records, patient data, and even genomic data—in standardized, interoperable formats through online tools and the cloud in a secure manner. The data can be leveraged for all kinds of insights and predictions during AI techniques. This is of high technological complexity and needs an executive leadership role, such as a chief data scientist or chief data officer with a specialized focus on the healthcare sector in India, dealing with crises like COVID-19.

How A Chief Data Officer Can Help Ease India’s Healthcare Burden

A public chief data officer for the health sector in India can ensure data groups, curate solutions to deal with the crisis, and help recover different areas from the pandemic. Such technological leadership is critical to establish a true relationship between epidemiological data and measure the impact on the Indian economy. 

In times of excessive stress and a high amount of medical data, the CDO leading the charge of the health authority in India ought to be the go-to individual for all information required over the government. The role of the chief data officer can be filled to encourage a data governance and standards structure and give authority to propel the health department’s general data analytics initiatives.

A leading CDO would strengthen the Indian health department with significant data science techniques, guaranteeing effective and utilization of epidemiological data. That way, the Indian government would not have to depend on the works of external data science teams to gauge the health situation in the country, along with the impact on businesses. The government needs to realize the importance of advanced AI/ML techniques and move away from statistics-based work.

India’s Open Data Initiative Is Ideal For Advanced Technology Leadership Roles In Data Science

India utilizes its Open Government Data Platform, known as ‘data.gov.in’, to open up public-funded data. The objective of this work is to examine this site as far as its content, data format, and other features, for the public good. It likewise tries to break down data representation and machine readability of data.gov.in.

The ‘data.gov.in’ is the Open Government Data (OGD) Platform of India. It is essentially an endeavor to advance transparency and straightforwardness of government information. The Open Government Data (OGD) platform has been arranged by the National Informatics Center (NIC) in sync with the Open Data Policy (NDSAP) of India. 

Also, with cutting edge investigation and cognitive advancements, we can process vast volumes of data to distinguish complex patterns that can prompt new revelations in manners that were practically incomprehensible up until now.  

A CDO for different government departments can assume the lead job in making data accessible to government leaders to educate human services resource allocations—and assist organizations attempting to understand business effects of health events and protect their employees. All these make it critical for Indian ministries’ tech executives to fill the top data-centered position. 

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Vishal Chawla
Vishal Chawla is a senior tech journalist at Analytics India Magazine and writes about AI, data analytics, cybersecurity, cloud computing, and blockchain. Vishal also hosts AIM's video podcast called Simulated Reality- featuring tech leaders, AI experts, and innovative startups of India.

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