Supporting professional practice in a changing world focused on improving the digital literacy of the Australian and New Zealand health workforce
The Australian Medical Council (AMC) and the Australian Digital Health Agency (the Agency) formed a partnership in 2020 to engage in a project aimed at understanding how technology impacts the standards of medical education, training and practice in Australia. This was done in alignment with the AMC’s roles as a national standards body for medical education and training, and as the accreditation authority for the medical profession.
This project was completed with the production of the Digital Health in Medicine Capability Framework.
In 2021, the Agency further engaged the AMC to promote the framework along with a range of online education resources developed by the Agency. These align with the framework and provide useful materials to support medical education providers to further consolidate the digital health capabilities of their organisations.
In June this year, the AMC completed this work by launching the framework with medical education providers and other key stakeholders of medicine. As part of this launch, AMC also presented on the capability framework at a number of national medical education and workforce conferences and shared a new look digital health page with their stakeholders.
The framework is designed for medical schools, prevocational training providers across all Australian jurisdictions, as well as specialist medical college programs and continuing professional development programs (CPD), international medical graduate assessment and support, and other providers of digital health education i.e. professional bodies and institutes.
It calls for intergenerational, cross sectorial and cross curriculum learning and assessment of digital health in medicine. The framework provides guidance as to how minimum standards can be achieved in digital health education. It can inform medical education providers as they work towards new models of medical education incorporating digital capabilities in the coming years.
This framework aims to address the gap between real life medical services and medical education.
In Australia and globally, digitally enabled hospitals are emerging, EMRs and other systems are being implemented. But are we training our current and future medical workforce to work in this environment?
Integrating learning and assessment in digital health into busy clinical environments
A key challenge in medical education programs is how to integrate learning and assessment into busy clinical environments. The Dutch medical educationalist, Olle ten Cate, has built an innovative solution to this longstanding challenge in medical education with his concept of entrustable professional activities (EPAs). These are priority work tasks through which a learner needs to show that they are able to perform independently with the support of an educational supervisor through direct observation in work-based assessment.
The framework proposes 3 EPAs that align with the 3 horizons of the National Digital Workforce and Education Roadmap (2020). The 3 EPAs each have 2 subtasks so that they can be used by doctors focused on both clinical care delivery or system change.
Ethical approaches to digitally enabled practice mean that practitioners recognise the limits of technology and situations where it is important that patients have access to in-person care. The tasks operate at 4 levels of complexity for progressive skills development. These levels are based on the work of UK educationalist and workplace-based learning expert Stephenson (2000).
Integral to the success of innovations in medical education is how learning is supported by access to learning resources and broader implementation strategies. The Agency has developed resources in digital health that are designed to support healthcare providers in using digital health tools. These include online training, podcasts, and events and webinars. Medical education providers are encouraged to embed these resources into their digital health curricula.