Foundation of Healthcare Technologies Society
Newsletter from the Foundation of Healthcare Technologies Society | August 2021

Dear All,

I welcome you to the third issue of “Population Health Research, Innovation, Skills and Entrepreneurship (PHRISE) Updates” newsletter. The pandemic has brought forth in our FHTS family coping, adaptability, resilience, and empathy to enhance the health of the populations.
We highlight some of the innovative initiatives aimed to address 21st century population health challenges. We highlight our initiatives such as SMAART Hackathon, our new speaker series and monthly public health quiz series as a range of opportunities to provide a platform facilitating knowledge exchange across diverse stakeholders. Our aim is to aggregate and summarize the critical highlights and demonstrate impact that FHTS is making to address equity through the lens of population health.
I hope you find this issue informative and engaging and look forward to sharing more about our organizing activities and contributions in our upcoming newsletter. I want to congratulate the entire team of FHTS for their perseverance, flexibility, innovation and resilience during these tough times amidst COVID-19 pandemic.

Ashish Joshi PhD, MBBS, MPH

To translate research into practice through use of technology based solutions that can empower individuals and the environment where they live in for the well-being of themselves, their families and the communities.
COVID-19 infections during Tokyo Olympics 
A record number of new Covid-19 infections reported by Tokyo's metropolitan government. For more info, click on the link COVID-19 positive case list.
Predictors of COVID-19 vaccine acceptance, intention, and hesitancy: A scoping review examines predictors and rates of COVID-19 vaccine acceptance, intention, and hesitancy. Trust in authorities, risk perception of COVID-19 infection, vaccine efficacy, current or previous influenza vaccination, and vaccine safety influences vaccine acceptance. Globally, in March 2020, the average vaccine acceptance observed was 86%, which dropped to 54% in July 2020, which later increased to 72% in September 2020. Globally, the average rate of vaccine hesitancy in April 2020 was 21%, which increased to 36% in July 2020 and later declined to 16% in October 2020.  Identifying factors associated with COVID-19hesitancy is not only essential for gaining a complete understanding of the rapidly emerging COVID-19 pandemic situation but also for designing interventions needed to address them. The study findings provide multi-dimensional insight in the interplay of determinants of vaccine hesitancy globally, as a contribution to existing literature.

A pilot evaluation of Swasthya Pahal program using SMAART informatics framework to support NCD self-management described the usefulness of an interactive, touch screen computer-enabled SMAART informatics platform to screen individuals at risk of NCDs including diabetes, hypertension, and obesity. Sixty-Four police personnel were screened during this pilot initiative at the Police Sanchar Training Centre, Sahastradhara road, Dehradun on 6th January and 7th January 2020. Individuals were assessed for overweight/obesity, hypertension, and diabetes and made aware of how to self-manage their condition. Based on the individual risk findings, a tailored lifestyle health card was generated. Hypertension (31%) was found to be the most common family history. 36% of individuals were presently smokers or consumed alcohol. Sixty-two percent of them self-reported doing some form of exercise. About 87% of them were not receiving any treatment to self-manage hypertension. Using JNC 8 criteria, 37% of the individuals were hypertensive. Fifty of the 64 individuals expressed interest to receive an SMS message. 64% of them expressed keenness to receive weekly SMS messages. The Swasthya Pahal program using the SMAART informatics framework can be a useful tool to enhance screening and self-management of non-communicable diseases (NCDs) among police personnel.
The Covid-19 pandemic has restrained and challenged the entire world in multiple ways. In these times of adversity, innovation is needed. With that in mind, we at FHTS organised an innovative event- SMAART IMPACT Hackathon. It served as a platform for participants to highlight the most prominent and recent trends and data on COVID-19 infection and management, impact on mental health and well-being, vaccination and what next w.r.t. COVID-19 impact, lessons and future.

Event Timeline:
  • 20th June 2021- FHTS announced the initiative, and informative flyers, documents, and registration links were circulated in collaboration with the social media and the institute outreach clusters at FHTS. We opened registrations to all interested parties, be it students or professionals from any field. Participants could either register as presenters or as attendees. Interested presenters could register as an individual or as part of a team (max no. of members- 3)
  • 24th June 2021- Registration deadline for the informative session. The team used an RSVP form to collect the data on interested participants for the same.
  • 25th June 2021- Dr. Ashish Joshi moderated the information session attended by 70 individuals. He addressed all questions regarding the hackathon, highlighted the four main domains regarding COVID-19, and gave an overview of what to expect going forward.
  • 30th June 2021- Deadline for registering for the SMAART IMPACT Hackathon. We received 132 responses, of which 51 had registered as presenters, and the rest had chosen to be attendees for the final hackathon event. 
  • 1st July 2021- Final deadline for submitting a 250-word abstract, a short 2-minute video, and the latest copy of CV. We received 22 submissions comprising a mix of individual and team participants.
  • 5th July 2021- The judging panel evaluated the received proposals based on the set judging criteria, and the nine best ideas were shortlisted. 
  • 8th July 2021- Registrations were re-opened to allow other interested students and professionals to register as attendees for the final day of the hackathon. We received an additional 138 registrations, thus taking the total number of attendees to 270.
  • 10th July 2021- The final day of the hackathon saw presentations by the nine finalists in front of our panel of judges and attendees.
  • 12th July 2021- Results comprising three best presentations, in no particular order, announced by email to the participants and via social media platforms.
Judging Panel for the Event: Our judges comprised experienced professionals from the fields of healthcare, research, health innovation, and public health.
  • Dr. Monirul Islam, Ph.D. Epidemiology, USA
  • Dr. Samia Amin, Ph.D. Health Innovation, Australia
  • Dr. Ashish Joshi, Ph.D., MBBS, MPH, USA
  • Dr. Ashoo Grover, MD, India
  • Dr. Krishna Mohan Surapaneni, Ph.D., India
  • Dr. Harpreet Kaur, Ph.D.India
  • Mrs. Mansi Gupta, BPT, MSW, India
The topics discussed at the event sparked important and necessary discussions at the forum, which was an enriching experience for both judges and participants. The excellent, engaging, and scientifically backed presentations by the presenters and the valuable feedback and advice from the judges helped make the event a big success.
The results were announced shortly on 12th July 2021. Due to the close competition and hard work and efforts from the presenters, the panel decided to select the three best presentations without any particular ranking/order.

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Asish Singh

Asish Singh, 18, Kolkata, is an incoming undergraduate student at Ashoka University. He takes a keen interest in the intersection of public policy and consulting. He is a Star Correspondent at The Times of India and has driven youth discussions concerning global issues at the World Bank, UN-75, NATO, and BRICS. His concerns regarding public health motivated him to participate in the SMAART IMPACT Hackathon.

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Manda Venkataramana Saurav

Manda Venkataramana Saurav is a 1st-year MBBS student from Panimalar Medical College Hospital and Research Institute.

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Khruthi S.

Khruthi S. is a first-year medical student at Panimalar Medical College, Chennai. She aspires to improve her skills using this wonderful opportunity.

Mukilan I.

Mukilan I. is a first-year student of Panimalar Medical College Hospital and Research Institute. He is also a student of FHTS Operational Research.

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Ngwa Franklin

Ngwa Franklin is a young enthusiastic, and dynamic health professional who wishes to explore and develop his skills, knowledge, and competencies by overcoming new challenges. This exposure will enable him to take upon more responsibilities, learn extra-relevant skills in an innovative setting that would complement my capacities, improve his self-confidence, and build a professional career in a professionally driven environment.

FHTS successfully held the inaugural webinar of our speaker series, which was attended by almost 200 participants. The guest speaker was Health Services/Population Health Researcher, Dr. Pradeep S.B. Podila, who spoke about the evolution of Electronic Health Records (EHRs) and gave an introduction to special topics for fostering public health efforts. The webinar concluded with a Q&A session where Dr. Podila addressed a myriad of questions submitted by the audience on topics pertaining to electronic health records.
Topics of the Webinar -
1) Evolution of Electronic Health Records (EHRs)
2) Introduction to Special Topics for Fostering Public/Population Health Effort

Presenter - Pradeep S. B. Podila, PhD, MHA, MS, FACHE, FHFMA, CPHQ, CPHIMS, CSSBB, Health Services/Population Health Researcher
Pradeep S. B. Podila has over 13 years of combined experience in Systems Support, Health Services Research and Data Analytics.
He has worked for over 7 years as a Decision Support Data Specialist-II and Data Governor in Process Improvement & Innovation and Patient Safety & Quality at Methodist Le Bonheur Healthcare (MLH) in Memphis, Tennessee. Pradeep received Masters Degrees in Electrical/Biomedical Engineering and Healthcare Administration, and PhD in Public Health (Epidemiology) from the University of Memphis.
Provoking the Perception - An enlightening series of Monthly Quiz
the first quiz of our Monthly Quiz Series PROVOKING THE PERCEPTION was successfully held on Aug 7, 2021.
As Covid-19 continues to create havoc and devastation in the world and its crucial to have the right knowledge and awareness about it, our first quiz was focussed on various aspects of COVID-19.


Description: SMAART Rapid Tracker (Research enabled Action oriented Policy Interventions driven by Data) is an interactive policy informatics platform tracking spread of COVID-19 outbreak and policy actions globally.
Aim: This tracker was launched globally to create awareness about COVID-19 disease.
Methodology: The data has been collected from CDC, WHO, Ministry of Health and Family Welfare and various publicly available information sources with the help of a team of researchers globally.
Current Trends: The Coronavirus (COVID-19) first case was reported in Wuhan, Hubei, China in December 2019, the outbreak was later recognized as a pandemic by the World Health Organization (WHO) on 11 March 2020. The current global trend of COVID-19 are as follows:

FHTS in collaboration with Panimalar Medical College and Research Institute launched a collaborative Certificate program in Operational Research in Population Health for first year medical college and nursing students. FHTS, under the aegis of Dr. Ashish Joshi introduced the program in India. The aim of this program is to nurture a cadre of budding medical and nursing students as young researchers. The course commenced in February 2021 and has since trained the medical students via engaging research modules and unique program features. The program further aims to inculcate and enhance the skills of students in qualitative and quantitative research that would aid in designing interventions and tools to provide quality and effective solutions to present and upcoming public health issues. The goal is to prepare a cadre of physician researchers adequately address the public health challenges of the 21st century.


19 interns pursuing Masters in Public Health from Amity Institute of Public Health, Amity University, Noida joined V-INSPIRE program for 1 month internship as a part of completion of their Master’s program.
30 Interns pursuing PG Diploma (Nutrition and Dietetics) from St Ann's College for women, Hyderabad joined V-INSPIRE program for 45 days internship as a part of completion of their post graduate program.


Chandrima Chatterjee

Dr. Chandrima Chatterjee has recently completed her MPH, specialising in Global Health from Prasanna School of Public Health, Manipal Academy of Higher Education (MAHE). She has received her Bachelor of Dental Surgery (BDS) degree from KIIT University. Her areas of interest are Mental Health, Health Economics, Bioethics, Health Promotion and Innovation. She has been involved in a few research projects on Health Technology Assessment, Disability Rights and Policies and COVID-19 research. She wishes to pursue a PhD degree in Health Systems Research after having considerable experience in the implementation field. Having completed MPH, she plans to pursue a career in Research and Academia and explore the different avenues of Public Health, highlighting its relevance in Modern Healthcare Technologies. On the platform provided by FHTS, she has been able to implement her theoretical knowledge to a platform driven by data and evidence, enhancing her research skills.

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Shambhavi Bhagat

Shambhavi is an INSPIRE Fellow working at Discussion Board Cluster at Foundation of Healthcare Technologies Society. She has been working as Public Health Intern in the organization for the past 6 months and have been learning various skills under great mentors and along with colleagues from all backgrounds to understand and work upon Public Health oriented projects here at the organization. She is a B.Pharm Graduate and hold a thorough 4-year experience of working on field with an NGO. She has been interested in Public health for the past 3 years now and have taken various certified courses to earn the basics in this stream. She is now aiming to pursue Masters in Public Health this year. She wishes to explore the subject and find her interest areas to move her career path towards.

Ridima Kamal

Dr. Ridima Kamal is a dentist and she is pursuing Masters in Public Health (MPH) from Amity Institute of Public Health. She believes that Public Health has educated in abundance, sufficient to overstep the obstacles and the FOUNDATION OF HEALTHCARE TECHNOLOGIES SOCIETY is teaching her about the urge for patience, hard work and the will to never quit. Public health requires the impulse to do better for the community and FHTS has consistently helped her to do it. She awaits for the meaningful learning experience from INSPIRE fellowship which compels improvement, acknowledgement and commitment towards the community to provide a promising awareness about Public Health initiatives initiated by FHTS daily.

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Ridhima Luthra

Dr Ridhima Luthra is an Inspire Fellow at FHTS. She believes that many people across the world have the passion and dream of creating an impact in the public healthcare sector, however not all have a clear direction on how to make that dream a reality. In that sense she strongly feels that FHTS holds a special place in her life in being that source of direction. She is a dental surgeon and completed her Bachelors in Dental Surgery from Govt Dental College & Hospital, Nagpur in 2017 and since then was actively involved in clinical practice. However, in 2020 when the world was hit by pandemic, the havoc & devastation it was causing to the people and the healthcare system as well as witnessing first hand the pain and helplessness while trying to ensure the best healthcare for her ailing father deeply overwhelmed her and she kept asking herself what can she do to strengthen the public health care system. This quest brought her to FHTS and she is immensely Grateful to Dr Ashish Joshi Sir and entire FHTS team for creating this wonderful platform. She is also deeply grateful to Dr Ashish Joshi for creating the most rewarding opportunity of being an Inspire Fellow at FHTS. This opportunity she says is giving all inspire fellows a global platform and a pool of opportunities to build and polish their skills in all arenas of public health. Each day is filled with immense learning and she is really looking forward to further hone her skills and knowledge and thereby become a person of impact in public healthcare sector through her rigorous training at FHTS.

Ruchika Gallani

Ruchika Gallani earned her BDS degree from Dr. D.Y. Patil Dental College and Hospital, Pune. Her first foray into the field of public health was as part of the first batch of V-INSPIRE interns at FHTS, where she worked on the SMAART RAPID Tracker. Through the internship programme, she expanded her knowledge of health systems, health policy and study design, and gained skills in data extraction and organisation, writing and presentation, and synthesizing findings into easily comprehensible information. Since then, her interest in understanding various facets of healthcare has only grown and she has tried to expand her knowledge in these domains through various courses, internships and projects.

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Rutuja Gadgil

Rutuja is graduated with bachelor's in pharmacy from Bombay College of Pharmacy and an incoming student at Creighton University for Masters in Pharmaceutical Sciences. Her interest in public health stems from her background in pharmacy. She joined FHTS as an INSPIRE intern in June 2020, wherein she gained in depth knowledge about how various countries are tackling the pandemic. Being a part of review article taught her skills such as data extraction, analysis, and how to write a research paper. She has joined INSPIRE fellowship with a sole aim of public health awareness amongst everyone.

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Silka Shubhadarshini

Dr. Silka Shubhadarshini (PT), completed her Bachelors in Physiotherapy from Swami Vivekanand National Institute of Rehabilitation Training & Research and then pursued her Masters in Public Health from the University of Hyderabad. Her work exposures and experiences have allowed her to grasp and grow over the field. In the past, she has got opportunities to work with organizations like WHO, NHM, and also for Asian Games,2017. Her recent publication titled “A review of national policy for rare diseases, India, 2021” got published in the International Journal for Multidisciplinary Educational Research. She got associated with FHTS in May 2020. Working with the wonderful team gave her technical skills along with motivation to keep herself open to newer roles & responsibilities and build a strong foundation over knowledge – She says.


Mansi Gupta

Mansi has been working with FHTS since 2016 as a Community Initiative Coordinator and looking after v-INSPIRE, an experiential learning programme and handling the operations of the PHD – Population Health Informatics Program. Her prime responsibilities include participation in institutional collaboration, stakeholder engagement, planning, implementation, strategizing, delegation for better program delivery, keeping the program dynamic, conflict resolution, timely addressing mentee and mentor requirements, data management and sharing program outcomes and challenges for smooth operations and targeting expansion. She is working very closely with v-INSPIRE Fellows and their clusters in monitoring their day-to-day activities, providing them necessary support, building a network for inter-cluster collaboration for helping fellows in achieving the goals which have been set for V-INSPIRE Community, an extension of V-INSPIRE.
During the conceptualization of the V-INSPIRE community she got an opportunity to understand the application of design thinking and human centred approaches with the use of data for creating an initiative. She is actively contributing in various outreach activities of the organization such as conducting webinars, hackathons and various other student centric activities. As a member of SMAART Rapid tracker team she gained an understanding of working on an informatics tool for the first time. She is also involved in a few on-going Research projects such as Disability Informatics, Behaviour change etc. Her aim is to understand and practice best management approaches and social and behavioural change communication in the field of Public Health. She feels very elated contributing to the vision of FHTS and having an immense learning experience

Ashok Kumar

Ashok holds a Master in Social work with a Bachelor's in Political Science. Before joining FHTS he worked with a few NGOs. He has been working with FHTS as a Community Outreach Worker for the last two years. He is an active contributor to Swasthya Pahal, V-INSPIRE Program and various other projects. He enjoys working in FHTS as equal opportunity is given to all irrespective of religion, gender, caste etc. He likes the team work culture. Everyone respects and helps each other. After joining FHTS, he has gained data management skills.
In the month of July 2021, the Board engaged 634 members across the world. There are 26 topics in the Board, and the members have put forth their valuable comments, with credible evidence and critique. In July, following 3 topics have been introduced in the forum, engaging the members into meaningful conversations –
  1. Effects of the Pandemic on the Marginalized Communities.
  2. Upscaling of Production – the Perspective of Pharmaceutical Companies.
  3. Burden of Non-Communicable Diseases during COVID-19 Pandemic.
 Key findings:
  1. The pandemic has led to a sudden rise in domestic violence and sexual abuse among women
  2. The lives of people suffering from HIV (Human Immunodeficiency Virus) have been severely affected due to unemployment and lack of access to ART (Anti-Retroviral Therapy
  3. Re-emergence of malaria, and cholera in Yemen during COVID-19 pandemic led to the double burden of disease which in turn overwhelmed the health care system of Yemen and further worsening the humanitarian crisis
  4. Policy makers should take into account the prevalence of comorbidities among population and its effect on COVID-19 transmission preventing double burden
Effects of the Pandemic on the Marginalized Communities”, a very important topic, was brought forward to discuss, garnering approximately 40 comments.  Some important highlights of the conversation were –
  • The concept of a humanitarian crisis – the situation in Yemen was discussed. The living conditions – ongoing war and the added problem of the pandemic landed the country in a more difficult situation.
The humanitarian situation in Yemen continues to deteriorate, where nearly half of the population is in acute need of health care. The condition was further worsened by the re-emergence of malaria, cholera in Yemen, and double burden during the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • The people who have been living with HIV – how their lives have been affected by the pandemic in terms of employment, access to ART, etc.
A study published in July 2020 showed that 252 PLHIV, receiving Anti-Retroviral Therapy (ART), had been infected with the SARS-CoV-2 virus.
  • The rise in gender-based violence has seen a surge in their numbers during the lockdown.
Home isolation and unemployment resulted in a sudden rise in domestic and sexual violence cases among women. Even homes are unsafe when victims are forced to live with their abusers. Women are often subjected to disparities when working from home and simultaneously taking care of the home and their children.
Upscaling of Production – the Perspective of Pharmaceutical Companies” was a very different take on the situational analysis of the pandemic – from the perspective of the Pharmaceutical Industry. This topic garnered around 24 well-researched posts within six days. Important highlights came up with the discussion –
  • The production in the Indian pharmaceutical has increased manifold, a positive effect of the pandemic
The coronavirus pandemic badly affected all significant sectors of the economy, but it has become a boon in disguise to the Indian pharmaceutical industry. Though some part of the pharmaceutical business was affected such as supply chain and import of active pharmaceutical ingredients from China, Covid-19 has provided some opportunities in the pharmaceutical sector, especially India. On the positive side, demand for both high quality and high volume CGMP (current good manufacturing practices) drug substance and drug product manufacturing services has soared.
  • The industry had seen a shift and also focused on workforce resilience with the changing dynamics.
Companies have upscale the production and started taking stock of the possible future crisis alongside building the path to recovery. Cost implications, location-related issues and risks, supply chain management, and risk mitigation have led to their networking strategy evolution. Moreover, newer technologies are emerging besides increased adoption of digital tools, telehealth, and app-based ecosystems. Companies are becoming more focused on operational resilience and accelerating initiatives that ensure an agile workforce, distribution, and automated analytical tools.
Burden of Non-Communicable Diseases during COVID-19 Pandemic”, when the world is approaching the goal of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), the pandemic managed to derail the different initiatives. Governments across the world have taken up various programs to achieve the goal of “Good Health and Well-being (SDG 3)”. This topic had generated 108 views within a timeframe of 48 hours
  • The burden on the healthcare infrastructure had increased in terms of outcomes and funding.
A study of COVID-19 fatalities in Italy found that 98.8% of deceased patients had at least one comorbidity, and 48.6% had at least three comorbidities. The WHO rapid assessment and analysis of data provided by 155 countries examined to what extent PLWNCDs are unable to access NCD treatment and care during the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • The presence of any pre-existing comorbidity has affected the infection and the treatment strategy for the patients infected with SARS-CoV-2. Policy recommendation and subsequent decision-making should be done by keeping these factors in mind.
Preventive measures against COVID-19 should protect the public from the dual burden of communicable and non-communicable diseases, particularly in the elderly. In addition to active COVID-19 surveillance, policymakers should utilize this evidence as a guide for prevention and coordination of health services.
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