Merolli M1,2, Green A3, Litzy K4, Dean C5
1Swinburne University of Technology, School of Health Sciences, Melbourne, Australia, 2The University of Melbourne, Health and Biomedical Informatics Centre, Melbourne, Australia, 3Coventry University, Faculty of Health and Life Sciences, Coventry, United Kingdom, 4Karen Litzy Physical Therapy, PLLC, New York, United States, 5Macquarie University, Department of Health Professions, Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences, Sydney, Australia
Learning objective 1: Compare and discuss current global entry standards for physiotherapy in relation to digital health technology and informatics
Learning objective 2: Appraise current educational standards around technology and informatics in the context of digital health care in physiotherapy practice
Learning objective 3: Support and propose accreditation guidance with regard to digital health technology and informatics, which build on best practice to prepare physiotherapy graduates to be the effective users, innovators and leaders in practice
Description: Digital healthcare is a globally significant trend, driven by advancements in technology . Significant trends shaping the future of healthcare include global uptake of electronic health records (EHRs), telehealth, mobile health, social media, big data, virtual and augmented reality, artificial intelligence, and emergence of blockchain .
In more recent years, the physiotherapy profession has begun to take note of the significant impact of information-communication technologies (ICT) and their impact on future models of physiotherapy . As opposed to eLearning, which centres on incorporating various ICT to enhance the delivery of teaching and learning, digital health and informatics are concerned with the design, development and use of ICT in healthcare for service delivery, planning and patient-management [3, 4]. For example, physiotherapists have a role in the following areas of practice-based technology: clinical information systems (e.g. electronic health records, and telehealth), digital patient assessment and monitoring (e.g. through wearables or sensors), consumer-health technologies (e.g. Internet, social media, and mobile apps), and health data analytics [2, 5]. It is becoming more apparent that physiotherapy students are unlikely to encounter patients that have not, or don't, use ICT to engage with their own health or the health system on some level. As such, teaching and learning models for incorporating practice-based technology and informatics into university curricula require a level of competency that emphasises digital literacy, exposure, knowledge, skills and authentic learning experiences using technologies likely to be encountered in practice [6, 7]. Preparing physiotherapy students for practice requires deep, applied learning models replicating real-world scenarios, bundled with knowledge acquisition, interpretation, critical analysis and informed-decision-making using the aforementioned technologies .
However, as academic disciplines in physiotherapy, digital health and informatics are still relatively immature. The landscape regarding formal curricula and course guidance in this area is heterogeneous and limited. Despite several international accreditation standards and guidelines, there is still no globally agreed upon accreditation standard for technology and informatics curriculum and competency in entry-to-practice university courses. From brief review of global accreditation guidance documentation, there is limited evidence of reference to technology and/or informatics for university courses (e.g. UK, USA, Australia to name a few) . Furthermore, academic literature commenting on this area in physiotherapy is also limited. However, student evaluation surveys drawing on medical education have indicated preference for greater practical exposure to technological likely to be encountered in practice .
Therefore, the objective of this focussed symposium is to explore whether there is a need and place for formal accreditation guidance pertaining to the delivery of digital health and informatics education in the aforementioned areas. Thus, ensuring future physiotherapy graduates possess a digital health readiness that is fit for purpose. For example, using the Australian health system as an example; with a health ICT market expected to be valued at over $2.2B by 2020, the Australian Government has called for greater ICT content and competency to feature in university health curricula to ensure graduates are well-placed and job ready for an increasingly technological workforce, with skills required in health informatics and health information system management .
Implications / Conclusions: Technology's role in physiotherapy competency is disruptive, forcing educators and regulators to re-think teaching and learning. As highlighted, there are several layers to this debate, including: teaching and learning considerations, student/staff expectations and experiences, institutional policy, course accreditation and health system needs.
A concerted approach to considering the future place of technology and informatics in physiotherapy education means more than simply weaving teaching with technology. The pedagogical implications of technological pedagogical content knowledge, will influence the next generation of clinicians as users, innovators and agents for change. Therefore, academic programs will need to pay increasing attention to planning, design, development and usage of technology in the curriculum going forward.
Key-words: 1. Education 2. Technology 3. Accreditation
Funding acknowledgements: N/a
Relevance to physical therapy globally: Physiotherapy practice is rapidly evolving. Advances in technology, and digital healthcare require new skills and a knowledge base that constitutes ‘what a physiotherapist is, does..and will be’ in the future. This consequently influences what may be included in educational programs. Part of the WCPTs strategic near and intermediate goals are to revise policy statements and guidelines that support physiotherapy education standards and accreditation. This focused symposium is timely in supporting this objectiv
Target audience: Interest and relevance to broad WCPT audience: educators, policy makers, MO leadership, clinicians, entrepreneurs, students, and WCPT Education Policy and Guidelines Expert Working Group (EPG-EWG).
Education: Technology and informatics (FS-18)
Merolli M1,2, Green A3, Litzy K4, Dean C5