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Health Informatics in UK Medical Education: an online survey of current practice

Structured Abstract

Objective: Health informatics has growing importance in clinical practice with successive General Medical Council recommendations. However, prior data suggest that undergraduate medical education largely neglects this area. An up-to-date, UK-wide view of health informatics training in medical schools is required. Design: An online survey was developed using current guidance and recommendations of UK professional bodies. Participants and Setting: Senior academic staff and health informatics educators at all 34 UK medical schools were invited to complete the survey. Main outcome measures: Quantitative and qualitative data regarding health informatics in the undergraduate medical curriculum. Results: A total of 26/34 (76%) of UK medical schools responded and 23 provided full information. Aspects most frequently mentioned were literature searching and research governance. Seventeen per cent of respondents felt there was little or no HI training, although clinical record keeping was addressed by all medical schools. Pedagogies used to teach health informatics were self-directed learning (78%) to lecture based (70%), seminars (70%), informal teaching in clinical settings (57%) and problem-based learning (22%). Health informatics was usually integrated vertically and horizontally across the curriculum (76%). Assessment and updates of the health informatics curriculum are limited (57 and 41%, respectively). Thirty-two per cent of respondents reported a low level of confidence among students to use health informatics as doctors. In the most up-to-date survey of health informatics teaching in UK medical schools, there are three major findings. First, the proportion of health informatics in the medical undergraduate curriculum is low. Second, there was variation in content, pedagogy and timing across medical schools. Third, health informatics is rarely assessed and course content is not regularly updated. Conclusions: There is a role for national guidelines and further research in this area of the curriculum which is rapidly gaining in prominence.

S Walpole, P Taylor and A Banerjee, The Royal Society of Medicine Open: 8(1): 1-10, 2016