Digital Health for Future Doctors

Why are digital health skills important for future doctors?

As healthcare continues to evolve and technology plays an increasingly important role in the field, it is becoming increasingly important for future doctors to be competent in digital health technology. Technology has changed the way medical information is generated, stored and shared, and future doctors need to understand how to interpret and use a wide range of technology if they are to provide the best possible advice and care for their patients in today’s rapidly-evolving healthcare landscape. This requires competence in a myriad of digital tools and techniques from digital prescriptions and electronic health records (EHRs), data management and analysis to ethical, safe and secure communication on the Internet. It was apparent from the Covid-19 pandemic, doctors also need to be proficient in using telehealth and other remote digital communication tools to connect with patients and collaborate with other healthcare providers which requires a good understanding of cybersecurity, privacy laws and ethics. In addition, future doctors need to understand advances in emerging medical technologies such as machine learning (ML), artificial intelligence (AI), Big Data and Genomics, which are likely to increase in clinical settings. This means that future doctors will need to have an understanding of how to navigate and use these new tools in a safe, efficient and ethical way.

While traditional medical skills and knowledge will always be the most essential skills for doctors, competency in digital technology is becoming increasingly important and is seen as a necessary skill for future doctors. Medical schools and accreditation bodies are also starting to take this into account, therefore it is inevitable that digital health will become included in future medical curricula.

What digital skills do future doctors need?

Future doctors will need to have a broad range of digital skills and knowledge to be effective in today’s healthcare landscape. Most countries including New Zealand have created roadmaps and strategy documents in an attempt to keep up with the evolving digital society. Apart from the those aspects mentioned above, there are many other routine digital skills and knowledge that future doctors may need to be proficient in.

Digital Skills and Knowlege that future doctors may need

  • Managing data and information
    • Use of Electronic Health Records
    • Patient Portals (ManageMyHealth)
    • Accessing data from different health services (private/GP/public)
    • Understanding of databases
    • Effectively perform database queries
    • Data protection
    • Safely and securely store sensitive data
    • Data quality
    • Securely transmit data (methods of encryption)
    • Data analysis
    • Big Data
  • Effective and Safe Electronic Communication
    • Electronic prescriptions
    • Telehealth
    • Social media platforms for patient communication, reputation and identity management
    • Texting/emailing patients
    • Blogging
  • Confidentiality & Legislation
    • Multi-cultural knowledge including an understanding of Māori data concerns
  • Data Analytics
    • Informed decision making
    • Quality improvement
    • Service planning, and delivery
  • Emerging Technology