Manipal Academy of Higher Education (MAHE), Manipal, Udupi – 576104, Karnataka State, India, is a ‘Deemed-to-be University,’ which is defined as an institution of higher education, other than universities, working at a very high standard in a specific area of study, that can be declared by the central government on the advice of the University Grants Commission (UGC) as an institution eligible for the academic status and privileges of a university.
MAHE was established under the third section of the UGC Act of 1956. It is one of the largest and top ranked private universities in India. MAHE hosts over 28,000 students from 57 different nations spread across various disciplines such as: medicine, dentistry, allied health sciences, pharmacy, engineering, life sciences, nursing, management, communication, etc. The University has off-campus locations in both Mangalore and Bangalore, India, and off-shore campuses in Dubai, United Arab Emirates and Melaka, Malaysia.
The School of Allied Health Sciences (SOAHS), a constituent unit of MAHE, was established in 1999, and in 2000 was the first school in India to start a formal education program in the health information management (HIM) domain. Since its inception, the Department of HIM at SOAHS played a pivotal role in creating awareness about education and training requirements within the HIM domain. The efforts of the department, in providing education and training by the integration of information and communications technology (ICT) applications and recent advancements with a global perspective, was a resolute step in the HIM education sector in an environment predominantly relying on conventional medical records management. The department focus on research has led to the first PhD in the HIM discipline in the country and another three doctorates in HIM and health informatics areas, which has brought more relevance for HIM in the region.
The department’s outlook on research has resulted in more than 100 scientific research publications in peer-reviewed journals and several scientific papers in national and international conferences covering a wide range of topics in HIM, eHealth, ICT applications, digital health, etc. The zeal for the department to address the ever-growing demand for healthcare ICT and digital health has led to the creation of the first formal master’s level program in health informatics, which debuted in the country in 2014. The involvement of department administration and faculty in many national and global level initiatives in HIM and health informatics domains has brought recognition for HIM and health informatics professionals in India.
The HIM department currently offers three formal programs: bachelor level program in HIM (BSc. HIM), master level program in HIM (MSc. HIM) and a master-level program in health informatics (MSc. HI). Across all three programs, the department has an intake total of 45 admissions every year. The curriculum for all three programs was designed based on inputs from different stakeholders: the healthcare industry, students, alumni and academicians from respective domains. The program curricula for all three programs are revised every two years to incorporate recent advancements and market requirements. In the last couple of years, constant efforts were made in curricula and training development to integrate competency based outcomes driven by the ever-evolving digital and eHealth market requirements from both national and global perspectives. There is wide spread use of ICT application and eHealth models within the healthcare system through various government level initiatives. Government initiatives in eHealth, mobile health, cloud computing, electronic medical record integration and health data analytics are a clear indication on how the country is progressing towards an ICT enabled healthcare system. Meanwhile, the focus on developing a skilled workforce and the creation of more educational training programs to address these requirements continue to lag behind. Understanding the global level eHealth sector and its future needs in our country, the HIM department at MAHE is making constant efforts to incorporate adequate training modules and competency based courses in all our curricula.
The following case study explores the history and development of health IT in India as well as the journey to creating new programs to train students in health information management and informatics at a higher education institution in India.