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The Indian Institute of Technology, Bombay Opens Centre For Digital Health

Image credit: iitbombay; Twitter

The Indian Institute of Technology of Bombay (IIT-Bombay) has set up the Koita Centre for Digital Health (KCDH) under the aegis of the Koita Foundation. KCDH will be focused on driving academic programmes, research, and industry collaboration in digital health. KCDH’s academic and research focus areas include clinical applications (including electronic patient records and medical imaging), healthcare data management (including healthcare data privacy and security), healthcare analytics, healthcare artificial intelligence/machine learning, consumer health, and public health policy.

Improving the quality, accessibility, and affordability of healthcare is one of the world’s biggest priorities. Digital health, including healthcare informatics, has a profound impact on the quality of care and efficiency of healthcare delivery. Consequently, there is substantial focus globally on enhancing digital health and informatics. India launched the National Digital Health Mission (NDHM) in 2020 to drive digital health adoption at a national scale. KCDH will offer minor, dual degree, Masters, and PhD programmes in Healthcare Informatics.

Digital health and informatics need cross-functional expertise – computer science, statistics, artificial intelligence/machine learning, bioinformatics, and medicine. According to a news report, KCDH will foster strong collaboration with digital health partners, including hospitals, medical research institutes, and the industry. KCDH and its digital health partners will establish joint academic and research programmes. Also, KCDH will actively collaborate with healthcare technology companies, healthcare NGOs, and government organisations.

KCDH is establishing a world-class advisory board consisting of experienced healthcare professionals, academics, healthcare technology, and industry veterans. The advisory board will provide an overall vision. KCDH will conduct industry, outreach programmes for healthcare and industry professionals in digital health and enable them to act as force-multipliers. “The centre will enable an ecosystem that can help address the healthcare challenges, that have been so glaringly exposed by the COVID-19 pandemic. Digital Health and Informatics need cross-functional expertise,” said Professor Subhasis Chaudhuri, Director, IIT-Bombay. “At KCDH we hope to enable seamless cross-functionality across these streams. We hope this new initiative will open up exciting opportunities for our graduates, including spearheading research, launching startups, and much more.”

Koita Foundation will work closely with the centre to help scale its operations and work with digital health partners on joint digital health initiatives (internships, research programmes). The organisations will also provide financial support to digital healthcare partners, as part of their overall commitment to digital health. Also, Koita Foundation will help the centre establish industry relationships in healthcare technology and with medical device companies.

Earlier in May, Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced the government was expanding NDHM operations. This includes the rollout of a unified health interface (UHI), which will enable people to use the digital platform for a host of health services, including online medical consultation and booking of laboratory tests. Though the technical platform and building of registries are inevitable essential elements, the utility of the NDHM platform will be visible when citizens can avail of services like teleconsultations with a doctor, booking laboratory tests, sharing test reports or health records with medical practitioners, and paying for these services online. He claimed the government plans to roll out UHI at the earliest.

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