What digital skills should healthcare professionals have?

The pandemic is accelerating the digitization of many sectors, but especially of health. Professionals in this field play a key role in the deployment of new technology-based models of care, which is why there is a need to equip them with the necessary digital skills. In this context, the Department of Health and the Department of Digital Policies and Public Administration of the Generalitat of Catalonia, under the coordination of the Fundació TIC Salut Social, are launching the COMPDIG-Salut project, which aims to provide skills digital specific to Catalan health. professionals. The UOC will carry out this project after winning the tender.

One of the first actions that the university will take is the definition of the digital skills framework for healthcare professionals. “We will carry out an exhaustive review of the existing European frameworks, as well as of the studies and publications which exist in this field”, explains the professor of the Studies of Psychology and Sciences of the Education and coordinator of the research group Edul @ b Montse Guitert. “Defining the digital skills framework will allow us to present the skills areas, skills and evaluation indicators necessary for this group,” adds the professor of the same studies and researcher at Edul @ b Teresa Romeu. The digital skills experts will also come up with an assessment model based on real cases. In addition, they worked on the new version of the ICT Skills Accreditation (ACTIC), presented at the II Digital Skills Congress, held on March 24.

For Guitert and Romeu, winning this call for tenders means being able to continue working on the development of digital skills, their area of ​​experience. “In recent years, we have been working on digital skills for citizenship, for the unemployed, for students and for primary and secondary teachers,” they explain. This project gives them the opportunity to continue working on it and, this year, to deepen the development of the digital skills of healthcare professionals.

Best-cared for patients

PSiNET researcher Eulàlia Hernández confirms that “the best care citizens can receive is from a health professional who knows how to use the tools they need in their care work”. For the expert, “digital health devices and services are a support for the work of the professional, which increases its efficiency and accuracy and, even, the satisfaction of the person being treated”. And this happens when healthcare professionals have the digital skills to “use the devices and services intended for their work,” Hernández adds.

For Francesc Saigí, professor of studies in health sciences and director of the Collaborating Center in Digital Health of the World Health Organization, “the digital training of professionals is essential to the success of telemedicine”. However, he warns that the ethical and legal aspects, the availability of the telecommunications infrastructure and its accessibility, the integration of telemedicine in the portfolio of services and the acceptance of telemedicine by the professional and the patient must also be. taken into account., In other aspects.

Are there benchmark countries to think about? For Saigí and Hernández, “the countries of northern Europe have had digital health systems for years that the group of professionals and citizens have adopted on a daily basis”. To realize this reality, “they were able to promote a digital health literacy process so that everyone has the skills to use these tools effectively and efficiently.” And, in the case of health professionals, include these skills in basic training. “, says Hernández.

For his part, the director of the Online Health Center, Albert Barberà, asserts that “higher education institutions must become agents of change to achieve comprehensive health and well-being that reaches all”. This is one of the reasons why the UOC is already working on the digital training of health professionals “thanks to the knowledge of researchers who have been working for a long time on the digital training of citizens”, he explains.

ACTIC 3-Health

Experts conclude that digital empowerment of healthcare professionals requires training. In addition, they say, this training must be accompanied by certification, one of the priorities of the Fundació TIC Salut Social. And it is that this project, in addition to wanting to define the specific digital skills of healthcare professionals in Catalonia, also wishes to create a model for the assessment and accreditation of these skills, ACTIC 3-Santé.

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