Healthcare industry is growing at a tremendous rate world over. A good boost to the healthcare industry has been given by the use of information and communication technology (ICT) for meeting the healthcare needs. For instance the market for e-health, m-health, telemedicine, online pharmacies, etc is very lucrative in India and other developing countries. However, regulatory issues have to be sorted out before exploring Indian market in this regard.
Indian government is already working in this direction. For instance, electronic health record (EHR) standards in India would be implemented in India in the coming days. Similarly, electronic trading of medical drugs in India and digital communication channels for drugs and healthcare products in India would also be regulated very soon. The National Pharmaceutical Pricing Authority (NPPA) of India has also issued order for all pharmaceutical manufacturers and firms to register under the integrated pharmaceutical database management system (IPDSM) of India. However, India is still lagging far behind in privacy protection and data protection requirements (PDF).
Meanwhile, foreign companies have started showing interest in Indian healthcare industry. For instance, Chinese e-commerce firms Alibaba and Jingdong are targeting pharmaceutical e-commerce market world over. At the same time regulatory authorities around the world are targeting illegal online pharmacies ad their websites. Even Google has joined this fight against illegal online pharmacies and is removing the links of such offending websites from its search engine. Illegal online pharmacies and healthcare websites in India are also needed to be curbed. E-discovery and compliance issues would also pose challenge before the healthcare services providers exploring digital means and online services.
Now it has been reported that Facebook is planning to explore the healthcare industry and has already started creation of “online support communities” that would connect Facebook users suffering from various ailments. A small team is also considering new “preventative care applications” that would help people improve their lifestyles.
However, Facebook is still at the initial stage of implementation of this initiative. Facebook is also not very good at privacy protection and this may be a cause of concern for those sharing their health related information online. Facebook is also not very supportive regarding law enforcement requests arising out of India. At this stage the policies and strategies of Facebook are not in conformity with Indian laws especially compliance with cyber law due diligence (PDF) requirements. It would be interesting to observe the strategy of Facebook for India in this regard.