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In November 2020, the Standing Committee of European Doctors (CPME) Board adopted the “CPME Policy on Digital Competencies for Doctors". Its puts into perspective where we are today in terms of digital competencies of healthcare professionals and what the profile of future doctors should look like.


Digital health technologies are changing medical jobs

Digital health technologies are revolutionising the way healthcare is delivered. They are reshaping medical practice and the patient-doctor relationship. Faced with these changes, health professionals and healthcare students are often not adequately prepared. Doctors, for instance, need to possess strong digital skills framed and adapted to their medical specialty (the digital skills of a neurosurgeon are different from those needed by an ophthalmologist). Other healthcare professionals have education and training needs too.

Countering the gaps

European doctors suggest framing digital skills into three main areas: general, technical and skills related to the patient-doctor relationship (see Table 1).


Table 1 - Digital competencies for doctors

Source: CPME Policy on Digital Competencies for Doctors, 21 November 2020

The CPME policy highlights a response strategy to the current digital competence gap: learning to learn from each other and translating specialised knowledge in an easy-to-understand language, so that specialists who work in different areas can work together. Ideally, doctors should have access to interdisciplinary and interprofessional collaboration – in areas like engineering, computer science and law.

Medical education and continuing professional development should also reflect these changes, and include the need to systematically monitor and assess any programme’s effectiveness. The policy concludes that, although progress is slow, universities and other institutions are willing to adapt their medical curricula.

Augmented intelligence poses particular challenges

Now that augmented intelligence (AI) is increasingly being used in the healthcare sector, doctors need to be involved in the early stages of the whole process. This will help to ensure appropriate design, validation, calibration, and implementation of the technology. It is important that doctors know about AI capabilities and limitations, while understanding the algorithms’ output in support of the medical decision. Last but not least, two other important aspects are ensuring professional oversight over clinical validation, while remaining cautious about the over-reliance of technology.

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