The Erasmus+ DISH project

The DISH European Reference Group
A chat with CPME

The DISH project aims at strengthening the innovation readiness and digital skills of health and social care staff in their everyday practice. To ensure that the very stakeholders for whom the DISH solutions are meant can provide feedback, the project has established a European Reference Group (ERG). Its members represent key stakeholders who are active and interested in the strengthening of  health and social care workers’ digital skills, among which healthcare employers, doctors, nurses, pharmaceutical students, and many more.

ERG Members provide feedback and expert opinion throughout the project implementation phase and make sure that the proposed solutions are tailored to the actual needs of the stakeholders they represent. They also support the project as awareness multipliers reaching out to additional healthcare providers, enterprise clusters and educational institutions.

To introduce you to the Members of the DISH European Reference Group, we will be sharing an interview we had with them on their strategy to improve the digital skills of the health workforce. Our next interview is with Prof. Sebastian Kuhn, the Chairman of the Working Group on Digital Competences at the Standing Committee of European Doctors (CPME).

Could you please introduce yourself and the organisation you represent?

I am Sebastian Kuhn, an Orthopaedic and Trauma Surgeon, Medical Educator and Professor for Digital Medicine. In my view, the digital transformation represents a fundamental process of change and is therefore one of the most important challenges currently facing medicine. I am convinced that, in addition to technological innovations and intersectoral implementation processes, the qualification of medical students, doctors and healthcare professionals plays a key role in successfully shaping this change process. Over the past 4 years, I have been intensively involved with this topic in curricular development and implementation, research and teaching. Last year, I took up the Professorship for Digital Medicine at the Medical Faculty OWL of the University of Bielefeld to further develop this field. 

I represent the Standing Committee of European Doctors (CPME) as the Chairman of the Working Group on Digital Competences. CPME represents the national medical associations across Europe. CMPE is committed to contributing the medical profession’s point of view to EU institutions and European policy-making through pro-active cooperation on a wide range of health and healthcare related issues.

What are your organisation’s priorities as they relate to the health workforce’s ICT literacy?

Digital health technologies are changing the way health and care are delivered, reshaping medical practice and the patient-doctor relationship. Digital health literacy of healthcare professionals is a crucial component of the efficient and effective transformation of healthcare. Doctors should possess strong digital skills framed and adapted to their medical specialty. At present, neither the practicing health professionals nor the generation in training are adequately prepared. Doctors need to be involved in the early stages of the development of digital solutions and understand technologies’ limitations as to form realistic expectations and reduce misconceptions about their role and usefulness. They need to ensure appropriate professional oversight over clinical validation, while remaining cautious on the overreliance of technology.

What is your organisation’s strategy for implementing or supporting solutions to improve the health workforce’s digital and innovation skills?

On 21 November 2020, the CPME Board adopted the ‘CPME Policy on Digital Competencies for Doctors’ which describes the key strategy in this field. We believe that the digital transformation of medicine is a dynamic, long-lasting process of change and innovation that will modify structures, processes and cultures of healthcare systems. It will significantly alter roles, competencies and cooperation of doctors with other healthcare professionals. Proper training and sufficient guidance, interoperability and respecting as much as possible current working processes are key for success.

Medical education and CPD should reflect the changing roles of doctors and the new skills they require. These skills include data analytics in healthcare, genomics and bioinformatics, AI in health, telemedicine, smart health devices and mHealth, training with digital health technologies, such as virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR), ethical considerations, communication skills with patients, relatives and healthcare team, and legal implications of digital health tools. Digital skills education programmes should be systematically monitored and assessed for their effectiveness. Interdisciplinary and interprofessional collaboration should be taken into account, in particular when developing a core curriculum for digital competences for specialist medical training and CPD.

How do you think that your involvement in the DISH European Reference Group can support your organisation’s strategy?

The pursuit of an interprofessional strategy as part of curriculum development makes sense given that digital transformation affects all groups of healthcare professionals and will fundamentally influence interprofessional collaboration and the division of work. This makes the exchange with the DISH European Reference Group valuable.