Letter to the Editor
We read with great interest the study by Poncette et al  on the development of a curricular module for digital health and undergraduate medical competencies.
The paper  illuminates the importance of implementing digital health training for future physicians in the curricula of medical universities. While the paper discusses the benefits of building a critical and experience-based mindset among future physicians, we believe that measuring the performance of and skills acquired by students before and after participation may augment the development and implementation of digital health competencies in the medical curricula.
A survey found high levels of satisfaction among students participating in the elective module. Confidence levels, as well as the acquisition of knowledge and skills in digital health, were reported to be high. However, this analysis is subjective as it is based on the student’s own opinion of their knowledge. In order to obtain more objective results, we recommend the assessment of individual skills by a standardized exam before and after participating in the module. Supplementing the opinion-based survey with exam performance may shed light on the actual perceived level of student competence while reducing selection bias. This would highlight the effectiveness of the course and give medical departments and universities more confidence to adopt digital health competencies in their curricula.
We commend Poncette et al  not only for their findings but for how they encourage a more interactive and nonclassical way of teaching. We hope that the high satisfaction among students may encourage medical universities to adopt this new model of teaching. The passive transfer of knowledge has been the dominating system used in medical universities [ ] whereas active learning methods such as a “peer-to-peer” [ ] teaching approach with an open discussion is rarely found, thus, resulting in high levels of satisfaction [ ]. Therefore, we hope that this paper may persuade medical universities to adopt this new teaching approach.
The introduction of digital health competencies into the medical curricula remains key to the success of future physicians as shown by Poncette et al . Therefore, we advocate for more objective student evaluation methods—before and after participating in learning modules—so that traditional medical institutions may be compelled to adopt this new teaching approach.
The corresponding author of “Undergraduate Medical Competencies in Digital Health and Curricular Module Development: Mixed Methods Study” declined to respond to this letter.
Conflicts of Interest
- Poncette AS, Glauert DL, Mosch L, Braune K, Balzer F, Back DA. Undergraduate Medical Competencies in Digital Health and Curricular Module Development: Mixed Methods Study. J Med Internet Res 2020 Oct 29;22(10):e22161 [FREE Full text] [CrossRef] [Medline]
- Graffam B. Active learning in medical education: strategies for beginning implementation. Med Teach 2007 Feb;29(1):38-42. [CrossRef] [Medline]
- Schmidt HG, Cohen-Schotanus J, Arends LR. Impact of problem-based, active learning on graduation rates for 10 generations of Dutch medical students. Med Educ 2009 Mar;43(3):211-218. [CrossRef] [Medline]
Edited by T Derrick; submitted 25.11.20; peer-reviewed by D Back, E Da Silva; comments to author 13.05.21; revised version received 15.05.21; accepted 17.05.21; published 28.05.21Copyright
©Alexander Grzeska, Shan Ali, Tomasz Szmuda, Paweł Słoniewski. Originally published in the Journal of Medical Internet Research (https://www.jmir.org), 28.05.2021.
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