Interview: AIIMS should develop newer areas in medicine and bring them to the fore — Dr Randeep Guleria

Dr Randeep Guleria, a renowned pulmonologist, was recently appointed as director of All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS), New Delhi. In an exclusive interview with India Medical Times, Dr Guleria shares his views on the challenges being faced by the AIIMS and improvements he wants to bring in as director of the premier medical institute.

You have been working with AIIMS for more than 23 years. How do you feel being appointed as the AIIMS director?

It’s a great honour, at the same time a big responsibility because AIIMS is one of the premier institutes of the country and one would like to see it reach new heights in terms of both – patient care and research & academy.

What are the challenges that AIIMS faces today?

Challenges in AIIMS today include the huge patient load. We need to streamline it and make it more user-friendly so that patients don’t have to wait for a long time for consultations. At the same time, we need to work on the strategy so that investigations are done quickly. We also need to involve AIIMS in doing cutting age research, collaborate with international research groups so that we come at the top with researches relevant to our country. Also, we will have a very good academic programme so that the doctors who come out of the institute are best not only in India but all over the world.

Where is AIIMS today on digitization platform?

We are doing a lot of digitization at AIIMS. A lot of our reports have become totally digital, reports are seen online and patients can download their reports. Our OPD services are also digitalized so that one can get online appointment of doctors and therefore they don’t have to come to AIIMS to book an appointment.

Moving further, we need to make the hospital totally digital and make it as paperless as possible, both in terms of record keeping and transmission of data. Interlinking all the laboratories are being done so that the report reaches to the concerned department and doctors as soon as possible. The report will be sent to doctors’ computer through intranet so that there should be no wastage of time in collecting the report physically and then start the treatment.

What are your priority areas to work upon?

Like I said, priorities that we have in front of us is improving the patient care and reach out to the poorest of the poor so that they also get quality treatment without having to spend too much.

Another priority is to look upon the areas of research for our country and start focusing on that. We need to look at global research groups so that they can help us and then together we can do innovative and transitional research which will be relevant to our country’s needs.

You had established India’s first centre for pulmonary medicine and sleep disorder at AIIMS in 2011. Which qualities make it unique?

There are two parts of this centre – one is the pulmonary medicine which is pulmonary critical care. But we also realised that now a lot of patients, because of obesity epidemic, suffer from sleep related disorder, that’s why we have now combined pulmonary and sleep disorder department where we are trying to also look at sleep disorder. As we have seen more and more obese individuals, including children, we are seeing a large number of patients who have excessive snoring and disturbed sleep at night, which has a long-term consequence leading to heart disease and diabetes. We are now developing that as a new area in terms of pulmonary and sleep medicine.

Are you planning to bring any changes in the education system at AIIMS?

In the education system, I personally feel that there are two very important issues. One is to change the curriculum to suit our changing times. Lot of curriculum needs to look at newer issues in our country, newer emerging diseases; non-communicable diseases programmes should be included.

Availability of IT based teaching materials should be done so that students can download study materials, which can give them better education. At the same time, we should also look at the very good examination system, which is practical based. A lot of exams have become theory based with a lot of mugging.

For medicine, theory is important, but it is also important to know how to interact with patients, so that has to become a part of exams also so that the doctor comes out as a complete doctor rather than just a person who is good in theory but not good at practices.

What vision do you have for the next five years at AIIMS?

Our vision is to become best in both patient-care, streamline procedures so that we have minimum waiting period for patients, try expand our area so that we have good space for patients to seat and no overcrowding of the area. We are also looking at expanding our emergency services because currently we have a lot of crowd in the emergency. At the same time, we need to develop newer areas in medicine whether it is stem cells or nanotechnology, emerging specialities and bring them in the forefront.

What’s your message for the readers?

I would need all the support and the advice from my peers in helping me reach new heights. I am sure with everyone’s good wishes, we together can work for a better community and better patient care. That’s why we are all doctors!

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