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Letters to the Editor

Keeping Pace: The Need for Digital Health Education in Medical Schools

Khurana, Mark

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doi: 10.1097/ACM.0000000000003672
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To the Editor:

The potential of digital technologies in clinical settings is enormous. However, to take full advantage of these technologies, medical students need to have a basic understanding of how and why they work, as well as their potential pitfalls. Unfortunately, the rate of digital implementation is far exceeding the rate of increasing digital health literacy. Although some basic statistics, epidemiology, and informatics courses are offered at medical schools, as students, we do not receive basic training in fields, such as artificial intelligence (AI), biohacking, or big data. These technologies are not yet routinely used in clinical settings, but their presence is growing.

Three main ideas should guide digital health literacy curriculum implementation:

  • (1) Encompassing relevant technology: We should prioritize AI and telemedicine in curricula since they are likely to be used routinely.
  • (2) Identifying the necessary level of competency required: We need a basic understanding of the concepts within each type of technology, but by no means do we need to become experts.
  • (3) Addressing the ethics and potential pitfalls of each technology: We should avoid certain patient groups from being disadvantaged as a direct result of digital initiatives (e.g., AI bias, inequity with regard to access, etc.).

Integrating more digital health into curricula would undoubtedly lead to more physicians feeling comfortable navigating this landscape.1 The onus is on both medical students to demand additions to the curricula and on curriculum directors to recognize this demand and act proactively. For example, in the field of genomic medicine, there have been efforts in the United Kingdom and in the United States to revise the curriculum by reaching consensus on the most important topics to include and subsequently implementing these changes.2–4 As digital health espouses the up-and-coming mantle previously championed by genomic medicine, medical education needs to keep pace.


1. Chandrashekar P. A digital health preclinical requirement for medical students. Acad Med. 2019;94:749
2. Demmer LA, Waggoner DJ. Professional medical education and genomics. Annu Rev Genomics Hum Genet. 2014;15:507–516
3. Hyland K, Dasgupta S, Garber K, et al. Medical school core curriculum in genetics 2013. Association of Professors of Human and Medical Genetics. Published 2013 Accessed July 23, 2020
4. Bennett B, Hart K, Allen J, Murray A. Designing an undergraduate phase one MBBCh genomic medicine syllabus. Br Stud Doct J. 2019;3:10–12
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