Posted on March 17, 2015 by Dr. Rashaad Bhyat
“The life so short, the craft so long to learn” - Hippocrates
Not that long ago, medical students and resident physicians had limited exposure to digital technologies in their formal training. I remember that during my residency, for example, library services and information technology were lumped together into a brisk afternoon training session.
After all, there was always so much clinical medicine to learn, and so little time in which to master it.
But it’s now 2015, and medicine has long since entered the digital age.
In Canada, this change is clearly reflected in the increased physician electronic medical record (EMR) adoption rates to 75% nationally, and in continued advances in hospital information systems.
Physicians who are at ease with digital solutions are well positioned to improve patient care using new technologies. However, national competencies did not exist for digital health training in the medical curriculum up until recently – 2014 to be exact.
The AFMC-Infoway Physicians-in-Training project began in 2011 as a Canada Health Infoway initiative targeting the next generation of physicians in partnership with the Association of Faculties of Medicine of Canada (AFMC). Infoway and the AFMC brought together a Leadership Committee composed primarily of academic physicians experienced in the use of digital health from across the country.
The Committee undertook an environmental scan to review undergraduate digital health curricula at Canadian faculties of medicine. The resulting "Environmental Scan of e-Health in Canadian Undergraduate Medical Curriculum" (2012) identified significant gaps in e-Health training in the medical curricula nationally. The results of the environmental scan prompted the Leadership Committee to make a series of recommendations to enhance digital health education across Canada.
It also published the first-ever national e-Health Competencies for undergraduate medical education.
The development of the undergraduate competencies fulfilled a need for pan-Canadian digital health competencies, and will help to achieve one of the broader goals of the Physicians-in-Training project – that is, to raise the profile of digital health within our faculties of medicine.
The creation of the e-Health Competencies for undergraduate medical education is a small but crucial step in the right direction, and will hopefully sustain the momentum required to ensure that our future clinicians are well prepared to practice in a digitally-enabled healthcare environment.
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Dr. Rashaad Bhyat is Clinician Leader, ACCESS Health at Canada Health Infoway. He is a family physician with a special interest in Digital Health. He currently practices in an EMR-enabled family practice in the Greater Toronto Area.