Disseminating medical literature and knowledge in India in the 1980s: the SMLRT story


  • Krishnan Ganapathy Hon. Distinguished Professor, The Tamilnadu Dr MGR Medical University, WHO Digital Health Expert, Member, Board of Directors, Apollo Telemedicine Networking Foundation and Apollo Telehealth Services, Chennai, India https://orcid.org/0000-0003-3156-7782
  • Arjun Rajagopalan Trustee and Advisor, Formerly Medical Director & Head, Dept. of Surgery, 1994–2016, Sundaram Medical Foundation, Chennai, India
  • Gita Arjun Director, E V Kalyani Medical Foundation, Mentor, Villgro Innovations Foundation, Chennai, India
  • Seshadri Suresh Director, Mediscan Systems, Mg. Trustee, Fetal Care Research Foundation, Hony Secy, VHS Hospital Taramani, Visiting Prof in Perinatology SRMC, Chennai & PSG Hospital, Coimbatore, India
  • Krishnan Sriram Tele-Intensivist, US Dept. of Veterans Affairs Tele-Critical Care, at Hines/Chicago, Illinois




medical literature dissemination, medical literature dissemination in India’s history


The informed netizen of today is in a state of information overload. With 785 million broadband subscribers and an urban and rural teledensity of 138% and 60%, respectively [1], India is already the second-largest online digital market. Today, in theory, medical journals and textbooks can be accessed by anyone, anytime, anywhere, and at affordable rates. Fifty odd years ago, when the authors entered medical school, the use of computers in medical education was unknown in India, as in other parts of the world. It was in this milieu, thirty-seven years ago, that eleven young Madras (Chennai)-based doctors decided to make medical literature easily accessible, particularly to clinicians in suburban and rural India. The aim was to make relevant, affordable reprints easily available to the practitioner at their place of work or study. Photocopying and using the postal service was the chosen, and indeed the only available, mode of operation. This article will outline the methodology used, trials and tribulations faced, and persistence displayed. At that time, the processes deployed appeared relevant and truly innovative. Over the ensuing years, developments in information technology made the services redundant. Extensive, even revolutionary, changes such as universal digitization and availability of a cost-effective Internet radically changed how medical literature could be accessed in India.


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History Matters