Academics from IIT Madras, other Top Institutions release Whitepaper on Biomedical Engineering Education in India
Top recommendations include calling for engineers to teach in medical colleges and establishing ‘National BME development committee’ and ‘Medical Device Corridor’
Chennai: Academics from top educational institutions in the country have come out with a whitepaper on Biomedical Engineering (BME) education for the first time in India.
Titled ‘Future of Biomedical Engineering programs in India,’ the whitepaper aims to help improve the quality of BME programs in India by identifying and addressing many challenges and bringing together all the stakeholders.
The report can be downloaded from http://web.iitm.ac.in/biomedical/whitepaper.html
The Top recommendations of the whitepaper include:
Ø Engineers to teach in medical colleges, doctors and industrialists to teach BME in engineering colleges. Every Biomedical Engineering college to partner with Medical colleges for AICTE accreditation and for developing medical devices
Ø Establish a ‘National BME Development Committee’ with representatives from the Medical Devices Industry. BME education in India is to be revamped with outcome-based education
Ø A ‘Medical Device Corridor,’ similar to the ‘Defence Corridor,’ to be designed for achieving self-reliance in medical devices
Ø Biomedical Engineers to be mandated in hospitals for accreditation, and they be qualified under the newly-introduced GATE (BME). Hospitals to provide internships to BME students.
Ø Develop BME of AYUSH using rigorous scientific methods, develop special programs and courses for Yoga Engineering and Technology, Siddha Engineering and Technology, and Ayurveda Science Engineering and Technology. Integrate exponential technologies such as AI/ML, Data Analytics, VR/AR/MR, Robotics, Drones, 3D printing with the prevention and wellness science and technology: AYUSH.
Writing the foreword for the whitepaper, Dr. Vinod K. Paul, Member, NITI Aayog, said, “I am glad to note that the challenges faced by the Biomedical Engineering community in India are well documented in this whitepaper along with the recommendations to solve these challenges. We will do our best to address those challenges in the future.”
Dr. Vinod Paul added, “I hope that this document will help the Biomedical Engineering community to deepen understanding of health from the holistic science and technology and provide best healthcare to everyone in India and the world. It is also my hope and expectation that this whitepaper will provide an effective referenced resource for all stakeholders of biomedical engineering and health professionals caring everyone specifically for infants and children leading to improved wellness-care.”
The lead author and editor of the whitepaper is Prof. M. Manivannan, Touch Lab, Biomedical Engineering Group, Department of Applied Mechanics, IIT Madras. Other authors were from institutions across India including Institute of Nuclear Medicine and Allied Sciences (INMAS) – DRDO, IISc Bangalore, IIT Jodhpur, IIT Delhi, IIT Kanpur, IIT Roorkee, IIT Hyderabad, IIT Mandi, IIT Ropar, IIT Gandhinagar, Consortium of Accredited Healthcare Organisations (CAHO), S-VYASA Yoga University, Bengaluru, Sree Chitra Tirunal Institute for Medical Sciences and Technology, Kerala, Kalam Institute of Health Technology (KIHT), Andhra Pradesh and Siemens Healthcare, Bengaluru.
Sharing his thoughts on the whitepaper, Prof. Bhaskar Ramamurthi, Director, IIT Madras, said, “I congratulate Prof. M. Manivannan and his team for taking this important step of identifying the challenges in BME for greater acceleration of healthcare in India. India has great potential to be a global leader in providing frugal innovations in healthcare technologies, and I hope that this whitepaper will pave the way for the Biomedical Engineering community to serve society even better in future.”
Commenting on the importance of the Whitepaper, Dr. T.S. Ravikumar, President of AIIMS Mangalagiri, and a Member of WHO Inter-Professional Patient Safety Curriculum Working Group, said “System Design and Human Factors Engineering are the pillars for Patient Safety or Public Safety. Man-Machine interface is a linchpin for quality & safety in healthcare. The Top Recommendations of the Whitepaper on BME from IIT Madras, are timely and will foster inter-disciplinary collaborations. This will nudge all stakeholders towards the common purpose of creating safe, sustainable and scalable solutions for managing illness and promoting wellness.“. Further he mentioned “I have high expectations that the MoU between IIT Madras and AIIMS MG will be guided by the principles enunciated in this landmark Whitepaper, in developing impactful outcome-based solutions.”
A recent study at IIT Madras observed that the BME educational system in India has not accelerated enough compared to other engineering programs in India. This whitepaper involved BME researchers from various IITs and other major institutes. The Biomedical Engineering education system is the backbone of healthcare innovation in India. Unfortunately, the BME education system is hitherto ignored, and needs special attention urgently, the study observed.
The whitepaper has recommendations for various stakeholders of BME education in India, universities, BME teachers, government policy-makers and industries.
The lead author and editor of the Whitepaper Prof. M. Manivannan, Touch Lab, Biomedical Engineering Group, Department of Applied Mechanics, IIT Madras, said, “The main purpose of this current whitepaper is to help improve the quality of BME programs in India by identifying and addressing many challenges, bringing together all the stakeholders of BME in India.”
Some of the other recommendations made by this whitepaper include:
Recommendations to policymakers in the Government
Ø Create dedicated BME institutes that can integrate Biomedical Engineering, Science, and Technology (BEST) and medicine (BEST-MED) for local needs. Few mission oriented BEST-MED institutes can be created.
Ø Parallel with the incorporation of anatomy and physiology in biomedical engineering programs, medical education could incorporate one or two courses on engineering principles, which can be taught by engineering faculty in medical institutes.
Ø Facilitate engineers to become doctors and doctors to become engineers. Allowing this cross-discipline is one of the ways to improve BME innovation ecosystem in India.
Recommendations to Funding Agencies
Ø A research media tool specific for Indian Biomedical Research could be implemented similar to VIVO, an open-source software system for research discovery supported by NIH-ARPA.
Ø Allocate a small percentage of the funding to BME industries for consultation with educational institutions.
Ø Set up a BME specific Skill development committee.
Recommendations to Universities and Colleges
Ø The focus should be on building the fundamentals of these concepts, not the advanced topics. Advanced topics can be pushed to either the final year or at the master’s level.
Ø Encourage BME industrialists to teach BME courses and participate in BME research.
Recommendations to Teachers of BME subjects
Ø Invite clinicians from medical colleges and industrialists to teach a few guest lectures in your courses. And provide incentives for the guest lectures.
Ø As BME is an outcome-based program, encourage course projects in each of the courses. The students should be encouraged to do small projects emphasizing the principles taught in the course. The teachers should provide resources for the students to undertake such projects.
Recommendations to BME Industries
Ø This is the era of personalized medicine and preventive medicine. India’s strength in local traditional medical systems, focussing on wellness, prevention rather than cure, could be the focus for disruptive innovation, making the affordable healthcare and wellness-care