Medical Informatics in India and IAMI

While the Indian Association for Medical Informatics (IAMI) is completing 25 years of its existence in 2018, I am glad to be associated with it for fifteen years since 2003.

The Indian Journal of Medical Informatics (IJMI) was initiated in 2004 when Dr Sanjay Bedi, Asst Professor of Pathology, Sri Guru Ram Das Institute of Medical Sciences and Research, Amritsar, was appointed Editor-in-Chief, with myself as Associate Editor and Dr. Satish Kumar and Mr. Vinay Pande as Assistant Editors. This effort culminated in the publication of the online print version of Indian Journal of Medical Informatics (IJMI). The first edition of the journal was released during Midcon-2004 at Kolkata. Dr Sanjay Bedi was successful in getting the IJMI indexed (ISSN number 0973-0379). Two further issues were brought out in December 2004 and October 2005.

The sixth biennial conference, IAMI-2007 was held in the Centre for Digital Health, Amrita Institute of Medical Sciences and Research Centre, Kochi, Kerala in November 2007 with Dr. Ajit N Babu as the Organizing Chair and myself as the Organizing Secretary. I also became the Editor-in-Chief (EIC) of the IJMI and started its online version with Dr. Ajit Babu and Dr. Vasumathi Sriganesh as Associate Editors and Mr. Sukhdev Singh as the Executive Editor., ISSN allotted for the online version of IJMI was 0973-9254. Prof. Ted Shortliffe formally inaugurated the online version of IJMI during IAMI-2007 in Kochi. I had the great fortune to remain the EIC of IJMI till December 2010.

Many of us from IAMI had been actively involved with the formulation of the recommendations for EHR Standards on behalf of the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare since 2010. I have been the Chair of HL7 India during the period 2-011-13. 

Subsequently, during my short Presidency of IAMI in 2016, IAMI Connectathon was successfully held in Bengaluru on May 21-22, 2016 – led by Manick Rajendran and Dr. Thanga Prabhu, the VP of IAMI. When we organized Connectathon 2016, Ajay, CEO Shristi, Sathish IAMI secretary, Prof Kishore Murthy, St. John's, Prof. Tony Raj, Dean SJRI, Prof. V Balu, St John's, Bharat Gera, CIO St John's, Dr. Chandil and Dr. Naresh YV, HL7 India, Suresh, CEO Raster images, Chinmaya Hota of Philips, and many more chipped in to make it worthwhile. 

While were planning to have a brainstorming session in AIIMS on the importance of Health Informatics as an academic discipline, especially with the upcoming National Digital Health Authority in the horizon, Dr. Oommen John took charge and conducted it in a well organized manner in January 2017.

In my Individual capacity, I have been working towards creating awareness for medical informatics in India since 1995, when my Guest Editorial on this subject was published in the Journal of the Indian Medical Association (JIMA). Later, Dr. Ajit Babu and myself had started the first M.Sc. in Medical Informatics in India at Amrita University in 2005. I had also started the Department of Biomedical Informatics at PSG IMS&R, Coimbatore in 2008. Thereafter, during 2011-12, I had been instrumental in the development of curriculum and training the teachers for a Masters in Health Informatics in Bangladesh. From January 2013 to August 2017, I was the first Project Director, Centre for the Health Informatics under the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, where I helped in designing and developing the National Health Portal and also coordinated various activities for eHealth and Digital Health in India. I have also been an International Expert for the eLearning Advisory Group of SNOMED CT from 2015-18.

Now it looks that Digital Health is about to gain its rightful place in India for improving Health of all Indian citizens.

Prof. Supten Sarbadhikari

Former President, IAMI.