Mapping the Access of Future Doctors to Health Information Technologies Training in the European Union: Cross-Sectional Descriptive Study

Giunti, Guido, Guisado-Fernandez, Estefania, Belani, Hrvoje and Lacalle-Remigio, Juan R (2019) Mapping the Access of Future Doctors to Health Information Technologies Training in the European Union: Cross-Sectional Descriptive Study. Journal of Medical Internet Research, 21 (8). e14086. ISSN 1438-8871



Health information technologies (HITs) such as electronic health records (EHR) and telemedicine services are currently used to assist clinicians provide care to patients. There are many barriers to HIT adoption, including mismatches between investments and benefits, disruptions in the workflow, and concerns about privacy and confidentiality. The lack of HIT training of health professionals as a workforce is an increasingly recognized and understudied barrier.

The purpose of this study is to describe what courses on HIT topics are available at the graduate level for future health professionals in the European Union (EU) and to explore possible determining factors for their exposure to these courses.

A cross-sectional descriptive study of EU medical schools was performed to explore the prevalence of HIT courses. The curricula of all identified higher learning institutions that offer a medical degree were manually explored to identify graduate-level courses that offer specific training on HIT topics. HIT topics were defined as courses or subjects that provided knowledge on the design, development, use, and implementation of HIT. Associations among potential factors such as population, yearly medical graduates, total number of physicians, EHR presence, and gross domestic product (GDP) were explored.

A total of 302 medical schools from the 28 member states of the EU were explored. Only about one-third (90/302, 29.80%) of all medical degree curricula offered any kind of HIT course at the graduate level; in the medical schools that offered HIT courses, the courses were often mandatory (58/90, 64.44%). In most EU countries, HIT courses are offered in less than half of the medical schools, regardless of the country’s GDP per capita. Countries with the highest percentages of HIT course presence have the lowest GDP per capita. There seems to be a weak inverse correlation (–0.49) between the two variables (GDP per capita and HIT course presence). There is a trend between the availability of medical human resources and an increase in the presence of HIT courses, with Romania, Croatia, and Greece as outliers in this respect.

The current state of medical training in the EU leaves much room for improvement. Further studies are required for in-depth analysis of the content and manner of instruction that would fit present and future needs of HIT.

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