The Status of Informatics/eHealth Integration in Medical and Nursing Curricula

Doctor going over data on a tablet with an older patient.

Authors: Mirna Hussein, RN, MS Candidate, HIMSS TIGER Intern; Toria Shaw Morawski, MSW, IICDP, HIMSS TIGER Liaison; Rebecca Fonseca, MS, CPHIMS, PMP, Technical Solutions Project Manager, Roche, HIMSS TIGER Volunteer; Stephan Schug, MD, MPH, Chief Digital Health Strategist, IQmed Healthcare Consultants, President, German eHealth Association (DGG), HIMSS TIGER Volunteer; Laury Westbury, EdD, RN, CHSE, CNOR, RN-BC (NI), RNFA, Director, Simulation and Assistant Professor, Department of Nursing and Health Sciences, Elmhurst University, HIMSS TIGER Volunteer, and Ana Aleksandric, PhD Candidate, HIMSS TIGER Intern.

Executive Summary  

The Global eHealth/Informatics Survey conducted by the HIMSS TIGER Initiative questioned educators teaching in medical schools and undergraduate nursing programs around the world to investigate if eHealth was integrated into their curricula. To achieve global coverage, the survey was offered in English, Arabic, German and French.

“The Technology Informatics Guiding Education Reform (TIGER) Initiative from HIMSS provides the global health workforce with innovative informatics/eHealth tools and resources to transform health for all. The global TIGER network collaborates to integrate informatics/eHealth into healthcare education, certification, practice, and research through an inclusive, interdisciplinary, intergenerational approach” (HIMSS, 2021).

“Informatics” and “eHealth” are used interchangeably to denote the knowledge and skills associated with understanding the use of clinical information and communication technologies in nursing and medical education and practice. The HIMSS TIGER Global Informatics Definitions Document defines eHealth (e-health)“as an emerging field in the intersection of medical informatics, public health, and business” (HIMSS, 2020). It refers to health services and information delivered through the internet and related technologies. Informatics refers to technology applied resources in all-heath related field including bioinformatics, but not limited to, clinical informatics, health informatics.

This Informatics/eHealth survey presents global perspectives of medical and nursing faculty on the maturity of eHealth content integration in medical schools throughout several countries. The survey also includes on factors that impede further proliferation of informatics as a firm component of medical and nursing school curricula.

Data generated from the survey provides respondent demographic information: Age, faculty gender, country, language, profession, degree, HIMSS membership status, and years of clinical and teaching experience. The demographic information, followed by curriculum content related questions, measure the extent of eHealth/informatics resource integration into undergraduate-level content offered in nursing/medical schools. The survey findings also reveal types of modules and/or courses integrated in benefit of target audiences and which topics are most relevant from a faculty perspective. Finally, the survey insights highlight advancements underway to transform traditional medical and nursing curricula offerings along with challenges and barriers that may be impacting progress.

In total, there were 175 global participants (77 complete and 27 incomplete responses; 71 were completely void of survey question answers). Only completed responses (N=77) were considered in the data analysis forthcoming results:

  • Highlights the need to upgrade curricular programming with a focus on integrating new modules and/or courses.
  • Shared insights regarding faculty participation in global conferences (digital/in-person) and if online courses are leverage to expand their informatics/eHealth skillset.
  • Points to the challenges hindering academic curricular reformation due to lack of subject matter expertise (SME) dominated the responses.
  • Establish the need to tailor eHealth/informatics resources to meet in-country needs such as local language. 53 participants prefer to have resources available in their native language.
  • Convey the need to involve industry professionals to support facilitating informatics related content.
  • Call out the relevance of local legislative policies.
  • Demonstrate how in-country technological innovations impact how students are taught within medical and nursing programs.