Medical and nursing students in Oulu welcome the digitalisation of health care
Digitalisation is rapidly changing the health care sector and its practices. This increases the need to improve the digital competence of healthcare professionals.
The attitudes of students in the field towards digital health and their skills in using technology were surveyed in spring 2021. 64 nursing students from Oulu University of Applied Sciences and 106 medical students from the University of Oulu responded to the survey.
‘The differences in attitudes towards health care digitalisation were surprisingly small between the two respondent groups. Based on the results, it seems promising that, in the future, the teaching of eHealth and telemedicine provided to both physicians and nurses could be further harmonised,’ says the editor of the article published on the study, coordinator and health centre physician, MD and MSc (Tech) Paula Veikkolainen from the University of Oulu's Research Unit of Medical Imaging, Physics and Technology.
eHealth education for health care students has been organised in Oulu since 2016. Since 2020, the education has been adapted to better correspond to the contents produced in the national MEDigi project. The project has identified 12 key content areas of eHealth education in which new professionals in the field should be trained.
Based on the results of the survey, the students not only view eHealth positively, but also assess their own skills in applying it as good. Digital technologies were considered to improve treatment practices and outcomes and increase patients' commitment to their own care.
Digitalisation is expected to increase the participation of patients in their own care. According to the survey, there were differences in attitudes towards the change between nursing and medical students. Nurses are more prepared to support patient participation, while medical students have more reservations about it.
‘The difference may spring from the fact that nurses' studies involve a great deal of patient guidance and training, while medical studies focus on diagnostics and symptom treatment. The difference between the roles of these two professional groups is also visible in working life,’ says Veikkolainen.
So far, very little research has been conducted on the attitudes of health care students towards eHealth and health care digitalisation. Based on studies conducted in different countries, attitudes vary. According to Veikkolainen, the results of the study can be utilised in the development of national education in the field.
The study has been published in the leading publication series International Journal of Medical Informatics.
Paula Veikkolainen, Timo Tuovinen, Erika Jarva, Anna-Maria Tuomikoski, Merja Männistö, Jarmo Pääkkönen, Teemu Pihlajasalo, Jarmo Reponen: eHealth Competence Building for Future Doctors and Nurses – Attitudes and Capabilities. Journal of Medical Informatics. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ijmedinf.2022.104912