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Blog: Infoway Connects

We Need to Transform Education to Prepare Students for the Digital Health Transformation

Posted on November 16 by Gilles Leclerc

Will information technology transform healthcare? Like most of you I believe that, without a doubt, it will. Digital records, e-prescribing, connected devices, mobile apps, robotics, telehealth, and artificial intelligence are just a few examples of ongoing changes in health care across the country. But, as the health care system continues its inescapable digital mutation, it may be surprising that up to now limited focus has been put on e-health student education and training in our universities.

In fact, if we listen to the University of Montreal Health Care students (n=294), teaching related to e-health is either non-existent or insufficient in academic programs (74.7 per cent). e-Health related skills development (76.9 per cent) and knowledge acquisition should be prioritized especially concerning e-health best practices (80.6 per cent), legal and professional issues (59.9 per cent ) and overarching e-health challenges and opportunities (56.1 per cent). Furthermore, 88.6 per cent of the surveyed students viewed the above training gap as urgent, stressing it should be addressed efficiently within the next five years.
If these results are considered by most of you, only as an anecdotal and conjectural portrait based on a small sample of students, it should, at least, raise awareness within our academic, clinical and professional administrations that more or better should be done around e-health education and training in our academic programs.

  • The first action may be for our community to start by recognizing, as proposed by Gray et al. (2014), that:
  • With the digitization of health care comes new learnings that are required from the students, educators and health professionals
  • These learnings are not intuitive, nor a generational fact which will resolve by itself upon the arrival of a younger generation of professionals
  • Universities should play an active leadership role in ee-health related education and training for students, educators and health professionals.

Concretely, during the past two years, peer leaders at the University of Montreal, have mobilized students, educators and professionals through different inter-professional initiatives that raised their awareness towards e-health challenges and opportunities. Moreover, our greatest surprise was that these initiatives allowed us to develop our own collective awareness on two important facts. First, that numerous e-health related research and developments are ongoing on in our universities with limited outreach in our communities. Second, that health sciences clinicians’ and educators’ involvement in e-health research and developments is limited and sparse.
Therefore, universities should provide more opportunities for interactions between professions and disciplines, support curricular integration of e-health related knowledge and experiences, and enable clinicians and educators to interact with researchers and developers, providing better insight into e-health models and technologies.

So it is without a doubt that I say that IT will transform health care but will health sciences education be able to transform and adapt itself to meet the challenges arising from e-health? I am not so sure.

This is blog three of three in a series of posts on the informatics e-resource for pharmacy students.

Have a comment about this post? We’d love to hear from you.

Gilles LeclercGilles Leclerc, B. Pharm. Ph. D.

As a pharmacist involved in the development, implementation and evaluation of the Pharm D program at the University of Montreal, Gilles’ interest in educational, technological and assessment issues has lead him in completing a Ph. D. in measurement and assessment in 2003. Since then, by taking part in or leading several scholarship initiatives he strives to advance technological innovations, assessment practices and evidence based research in pharmacy education.


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