Digital skills training to be provided for 500 family doctors and nurses ({{contentCtrl.commentsTotal}})

Family doctors' advice hotline.
Family doctors' advice hotline. Source: ERR

Hundreds of family doctors and nurses will receive digital skills training to over the next three years after the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Communications entered into a contract with Tallinn University of Technology (TalTech).

Siim Sikkut, deputy secretary general of the Estonian Ministry of Economic Affairs and Communications for ICT, said: "The Estonian health care system requires for health professionals to be digitally literate as patient treatment information is stored in an information system, prescriptions and referrals are issued electronically, and consultations between family doctors and specialist medical practitioners, too, are often held electronically. Considering the pace of technological development after the presently working specialists finished their training, we need to boost developing the basic ICT skills of these people."

Data from the Estonian Information System Authority (RIA) shows the number of cybersecurity incidents in 2017 totaled 32, and of these 10 directly affected the work of hospitals or family doctors. In 2018, the information systems of one family health center were encrypted in a ransomware attack, which also affected patient processing.

Insufficient digital skills may also hinder health care professionals' advancement career-wise, winning bidder in the procurement TalTech said.

Peeter Ross, professor at TalTech's department of health technologies, said: "Difficulties in the daily use of the family medicine information system and e-health services impose a burden on family doctors and nurses and is above all manifested in inadequate documentation and low use of digital solutions."

"In order to benefit more from computers and smart devices, the digital documentation skills of nurses and doctors need to be improved; they also need an overview of opportunities provided by new digital solutions as well as of general ICT skills, and in particular of information security and its importance," Ross said.

The training courses, which are aimed at family doctors and nurses as well as resident physicians in the Health Board's national register, will start in spring 2020. 

The procurement was organized in cooperation with the Ministry of Social Affairs, Health and Welfare Information Systems Center and the Information System Authority. The project is financed from a European Social Fund support scheme for improving digital literacy. The total cost of the project is €348,960. 

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Editor: Helen Wright

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