Whose empowerment? National digital infrastructure and India's healthcare sector.
Patient-centric digital infrastructure can potentially enhance the efficiency of the healthcare systems. Even in developed nations evidence suggests low adoption rates for such infrastructure. The Indian government, piggybacking off biometric identity, is setting up digital infrastructure to enable the provision of universal healthcare. Invoking an information ecology perspective, we investigate the physician's perception to this initiative. We find that, equipped with a unique patient identifier and stakeholders' registry, this initiative is perceived to be a game changer and could significantly impact the power dynamics in the healthcare sector. Physicians, who are the key stakeholders in this initiative, are skeptical about the change in the locus of the power, with power residing in 'data' rather than 'professional expertise'. The changes are expected to manifest through monitoring, controlling and managing the data rather than the provision of knowledge-based services. We present recommendations for the design and implementation of this large-scale patient-centric digital infrastructure.