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MUHS unveils India’s first state-led Network of CoE, Digital Health Foundation Course for online medical education

The Network of CoE aims to improve medical research, education, and healthcare quality in the state through a collaborative approach 

Maharashtra University of Health Sciences (MUHS) launched India’s first state-led Network of Centers of Excellence (CoE) in healthcare, to be led by the University as the central hub. The initiative was launched by Hasan Mushrif, Minister of Medical Education for Maharashtra, in the presence of Dinesh Waghmare, Principal Secretary, Medical Education Department (MH), Vinod Paul, Member Niti Aayog, Prof Dr Ajay Kumar Sood, Principal Scientific Advisor to the Government of India, Dr Rajiv Bahl, Director General ICMR, Dr BN Gangadhar, Chairman (officiating) NMC, Dr Rajesh Gokhale, Secretary, Department of Biotechnology, the Vice-Chancellor (MUHS), Lt Gen Madhuri Kanitkar (Retd), PVSM, AVSM, VSM, Pro Vice-Chancellor (MUHS), Dr Milind Nikumbh, Registrar of MUHS, Dr Rajendra Bangal, Prashant Auty, Chief Engineer PWD, Gi Soon Song, Dr Nishant Jain and Kanupriya Gupta from the Asian Development Bank, Rizwan Koita and Surabhi Goel from Koita Foundation and Abhishek Gopalka from BCG. 

The Network of CoE aims to improve medical research, education, and healthcare quality in the state through a collaborative approach. The CoE idea received a significant boost when the policy Network of Centers of Excellence Policy, 2023 was issued by the Government of Maharashtra, as a part of the loan programme by the Asian Development Bank. ADB team worked with the Government of Maharashtra and the MUHS team to refine the concept of a network of CoE. Beyond CoE, the ADB loan programme of $500 million is to develop healthcare infrastructure, boost digital medical education and healthcare, talent and performance management and procurement in Maharashtra. 

This network will operate as a hub and spoke model, with the newly launched Maharashtra State Health Training and Research Institute (MSHTRI), in MUHS, as the hub and apex Centre. MSHTRI will house several initiatives for the benefit of the state. A faculty development academy will train medical professionals in modern healthcare techniques, along with technology and management.

DISHA – an incubation centre for medical innovation, will support medical professionals and startups to take their ideas through prototyping and market launch. An AR/VR-enabled simulation lab will be set up to allow faculty and medical students to learn and experiment in a realistic yet safe environment. MSHTRI will also have a Digital learning studio for online learning, and state-of-the-art healthcare museum and a library. 

In the very first year of operations, MSHTRI will support digital learning for over 10,000 medical students in the state with 20 online learning modules, incubate over 20 startups and train over 400 faculty at the faculty development academy, 1000 students at the simulation lab, and 400 students at the digital health centre. This network and the initiatives under the hub were conceptualised by MUHS in a joint effort with technical assistance from The Boston Consulting Group. 

The event also witnessed the launch of the Digital Health Foundation Course (DHFC) in collaboration with Koita Foundation. DHFC will be offered as a part of the curriculum to over 450 medical colleges and more than 40,000 medical students. With the introduction of DHFC, Maharashtra becomes the first state in India to introduce Digital Health as a formal course for medical students. 

DHFC is supported by a virtual Digital Health Lab (DHL), where students can gain practical experience with the theories learned in DHFC. It is designed to provide participants with a comprehensive understanding of Digital Health fundamentals, along with hands-on experience using commonly utilised tools in the field. Tailored for students, healthcare professionals, and individuals eager to expand their expertise in Digital Health applications, the course introduces topics including Hospital Management Information Systems (HMIS), Electronic Medical Records (EMR), Imaging Technologies, Healthcare Data Interoperability, Data Privacy & Security, ABDM, Wearables and Apps, AI/ML, and more. The DHFC curriculum has been curated by leading doctors and subject matter experts across India and abroad. 

Mushrif said, “It has been the constant endeavour of the Government of Maharashtra to ensure citizens have equitable access to affordable healthcare. We have been working towards establishing more medical colleges which will have state-of-the-art facilities. The Network of Centers of Excellence policy was issued to take a significant step in this direction. I am happy to note that the centre is being established, with important initiatives being undertaken. We must ensure complete support for the all-round development of our doctors and medical professionals, which in turn promises good services to patients in the state.” 

Waghmare said, “Maharashtra has made great strides in healthcare, with strong performance on several parameters in the NITI Aayog overall health index. We have done good work along the path of the Government of Maharashtra’s vision to improve the quality of healthcare. We must further bolster faculty availability and quality, ensure adequate hospital infrastructure and embrace technology to make further improvements. MSHTRI and the network of COEs will certainly have a significant contribution towards this cause.” 

Kanitkar said, “MSHTRI and the COE network have been a dream initiative for all of us. and we are delighted to see it come to fruition. Everyone from various walks has come together to make this a reality. MSHTRI will house several new-age initiatives such as a digital health centre, simulation lab, and clinical trial governance that are the need of the hour to modernise healthcare that works for all. Digital Health is at the forefront of healthcare today, and the landscape of healthcare delivery and medical practice is rapidly evolving. Understanding digital health and leveraging new tools for the benefit of patient care is imperative in this era. It is a proud moment for MUHS to make Maharashtra the first state in India to introduce Digital Health for all medical students.” 

Pau mentioned, “The true flagbearers of ‘Heal in India’ and ‘Heal by India’ missions are going to be the medical educational institutes that create our healthcare professionals. The bold vision of our Honourable PM on digital health in India set by schemes like Ayushman Bharat Digital Mission will be bolstered by revolutionary organisations like this Centre of Excellence, which has a sharp focus on digital learning, training, entrepreneurial innovation and proliferation of modern innovation and technology in healthcare in the country. This pioneering CoE, which is the first-of-its-kind, will lead the way for many such networks in other states within the country.” 

Jain from Asian Development Bank, opined, “We at Asian Development Bank are proud to support the Government of Maharashtra’s Medical Education Department and the University in this initiative. It is a day of great pleasure to see MSHTRI being inaugurated, and we are eager to see the state as an exemplar for other states to learn and serve, beyond the boundaries of Maharashtra and India.”



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