The Health Informatics Society of Australia is offering a suite of new, self-paced online training courses for doctors to learn about the rapid technological changes overtaking the profession
Former society chair David Rowlands, who has developed the courses, stressed the goal was digital awareness rather than academic rigour.
“It’s about telling clinicians that they are now in a digital business, and in a hyper-connected world there are things you need to know. Otherwise, mistakes can proliferate as quickly as good things can,” he told The Medical Republic.
“We are trying to raise awareness of key stumbling points and the critical success factors in digital health.”
The foundation course, Clinical Practice in a Digital Age, would be suitable for any clinician, giving an overview of the terminology and safety demands of clinical data.
“In the old world of clinical practice, GPs just had to record information for themselves, in words they would recognise when they looked at the notes again,” Mr Rowlands said.
“In a digital age, where that information may be shared with patients, allied health professional and other GPs, and it goes around and populates a system and is matched with a range of other data that comes out of a digital health system, a lot of discipline is required to make sure it is safe and reliably interpretable.”
The next two courses on offer are more detailed, targeted at clinicians who are going to be leading their organisations through a digital-change process.
“If a hospital is going to introduce a new clinical decision support system, for example, we know for a fact that clinical leadership is absolutely crucial to getting that right.
“There is significant evidence now from around the world that health IT brings new sources of errors, if we are not aware of the risks.
“There are things emerging from experience and systematic review, and some approaches that are useful in mitigating the risks.”
In coming months, courses will be rolled out for IT professionals who are new to the health workforce, “so they can have a decent conversation and understand why clinical governance and work flows operate the way they do”.
Mr Rowlands, who helped establish the society’s professional certification scheme and wrote the scheme’s practitioners guide, and a guide to patient safety in health IT, said digital workforce training was in its infancy.
Despite the growing importance of health data and performance measurement, Australia’s mainstream education sector did not offer specific training for health informaticians or equip clinicians with an essential grounding in digital health.
“No one is getting strong support from the academic sector in digital health, and even if there were, there would still be a gap,” he said.