Pursuing Medical Education in 2021

We learn in 2020 that we must adapt to survive, especially for those who worked in the medical field. Doctors will have to adapt to new, digital communication logics with patients that are already standard today apart from medical care. Like it or not medical studies need to be digitalized to some degree for universities to keep going. Read to learn more about the digitalization of medical education.

Future of Medical Education

The normal standard for 2021 will look like this: people in almost every household work and live with smartphones or computers. They shop online, stream films, read the news on their tablets, and use social networks and messenger apps to connect with people around the world in seconds. Information technology has already brought about lasting changes in the health sector. Although the development towards digitization is slower than in other areas due to the high-quality requirements and regulation, the beginning of a profound change can also be felt in medicine. Doctors already use modern electronic technologies and IT systems daily. They enable the organization of hospitals, the administration and documentation of patient data, increase diagnostic possibilities, offer alternatives to invasive surgical interventions, and in some countries even give patients the chance to visit the doctor from home via video conference.

A look at the status of current research and the latest clinical studies reveals the crucial role information technology will play in everyday medical practice: Combined with the ongoing pandemic, this makes digitalization a necessity for almost everyone. So doctors can easily learn cardiology CME courses from the comfort of their own home.

For example, a current research area deals with neural interfaces, so-called brain-computer interfaces. The basis for this is the coupling of nerve cells in the brain with a processing unit or a computer. These interfaces are then used to control or address computing units, so that computer programs or prostheses can be controlled by normal brain activity.

A Georgia clinical study is using digitaltechnology to treat patients with refractory focal epilepsy. A so-called “closed-loop responsive neurostimulation system (RNS)” is implanted in the patient. This consists of a pulse generator, one or two subdural electrodes, and a programming unit. The pulse generator continuously measures and analyzes the patient’s “electrocorticogram (ECoG)”. As soon as abnormalities are noted in the ECoG, the pulse generator automatically sends an electrical signal to counteract an epileptic seizure. The parameters that determine the risk of a potential seizure are set by the doctor using the programming unit. In seven out of eight patients, the use of this technology was able to reduce the frequency of epileptic seizures by at least 45 percent, in two cases even a decrease of 75 percent was achieved.

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Doctors Needs Technology

These methods, which are likely to be used soon, require a high level of technical understanding, which must be brought along to ensure successful therapy. Doctors of the future are therefore expected to be able to understand the basic functionality and structure of such technologies and to be able to discuss them with the technical staff individually. Only then can an interdisciplinary cooperation be guaranteed, which brings the corresponding benefit for the patient.

The performance of modern IT technology is growing exponentially, countless studies in medical research deal with it and show that medicine as we know it today is still at the beginning of its technical possibilities. More and more new technologies can be expected in the next few years – with great potential for improved patient care.

However, high-tech care is only ever as good as the doctor who knows how to use it. He/she must therefore have the know-how for it. This means not only a basic understanding but also the competence to critically question the new methods. He must know and be able to assess the advantages and risks to continue

Lindsay Shearer