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COVID Pandemic provided a fillip to the ecosystem of digital medical care; services like Electronic ICUs and Teleconsultations are now a reality, said Rajesh Bhushan, Union Secretary for Health on Friday while inaugurating 3rd National Conference “ERMED Consortium", Digital Health Resources at New Delhi.

National Medical Library’s Electronic Resources in Medicine (NML-ERMED) Consortium is the flagship electronic resources consortium by Directorate General of Health Services (DGHS) & Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, wherein access to 228 e-journals are being provided round the clock to 71 state and centrally funded Government Institutions including all All India Institute of Medical Science (AIIMS).

“The overall library scenario has changed nationally and globally post pandemic. The rapid transition has been taking place be it from print and manual learning resources to electronic forms. But we must not lose sight of the bigger picture that India is perhaps one of the few countries in the world that is observing significant expansion of medical institutions in the recent times. Hence, we must be careful in adopting global technological practices and must take into account our local needs," said Bhushan.

While highlighting the presence of vibrant research community in India and our technological prowess which needs to be further encouraged, Bhushan said that the CoWIN platform that has been able to robustly serve not just our citizens with more than 2 billion vaccine doses recorded digitally but has been hailed as a global best practice.

He urged the stakeholders to come up with similar digital platforms and create homegrown best practices where Indian methods and Indian solutions dominate the digital spaces. Bhushan reiterated the implications of pandemic on medical teaching and medical care.

Citing examples of Electronic ICUs or tele-ICUs and Teleconsultations that has become a commonplace now, he emphasized that pandemic has provided the fillip to the ecosystem of digital medical care. He noted that that Government of India is expanding these services by taking technical advantage of Internet and mobile technology penetration in the country. These avenues are being pushed forward at the ground level for ensuring accessibility, affordability, equity along with quality of healthcare services. Building on this strong ground work, libraries must also come up with innovative best practices so that it can help cater to the needs of our medical professionals, he highlighted.

The prime focus of ERMED is helping medical colleges to comply with NMC guidelines, standardize care across all clinicians, reduce variability in care, enable safe patient care, drive appropriate drug use and prescribing behavior, decrease medical errors, stop unnecessary diagnostic testing, shorten length-of-stay, lower mortality rates, exposure to the latest research, information development, scientific and technological progress.

ERMED consortium would expand the research output and the ranking of the member institutions in this process.

Government of India has provided the financial support required for the access to electronic journals under the NML-ERMED consortium project. ERMED members have access to advanced clinical tools and resources published by the well-known publishers for benefit of faculty members and students.

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