Clinicians in the era of digital content

Authored By: Mr. Prashant Mishra, Managing Director of British Medical Journal (BMJ) India and South Asia

Patients are increasingly more informed about the quality of the healthcare they receive and have greater say in their treatment options than ever before. Consequently, doctors have adapted to offer them more engagement, thus bridging the gap between the patient and the provider. This transformation, especially in India, has seen the rise of member portals (doctor-doctor interaction, doctor-patient interaction), mobile health apps, e-learning platforms.

 Mr Prashant Mishra, Managing Director of British Medical Journal (BMJ) India and South Asia

Mr. Prashant Mishra

As patients demand more interactions (notifications, education, alerts, clinician dialogue), the tech landscape has altered to empower them, ushering in a new era of the forever connected, digital clinician. Also contributing to this trend are the demands of modern day medicine, mandating that clinicians remain updated with the latest therapeutic advances. Hence the surge in online portals, platforms and communities, that are designed to meet the immediate and continuous needs of clinicians.

Digital Interventions

The widespread proliferation of the internet has democratized information access and availability, now even more so for clinicians. As per a survey results over 12,000 doctors in India, 76% agreed that the internet is an important medium to gain knowledge. Right from discussing clinical cases, learning content to networking, the usage of internet is rising amongst healthcare professionals in India.

Doctors are using e-learning platforms to stay apprised with the latest updates in their respective fields. E-learning offers learners control over their learning pathways. Given that the day to day workflow for a clinician is complex and demanding, this is an important parameter for the choice of learning interventions. The flexibility of choice of medium (text-based scripts vs. audio/video content), empowers them to be in control over their learning requirements.


Many platforms have mushroomed over the years, catering to the CME needs of doctors. However, there is an urgent need for evidence-based solutions, to ensure that doctors always have access to the correct clinical information right when they need it. Collaborations of such platforms with accredited bodies and societies lend that extra credibility and offer differentiation.

Peer to peer doctor networking platforms help members share medical expertise, offer advice, discuss interesting clinical cases, and offer collaboration opportunities. This vertical specialization helps in reducing information overload for clinicians, offering them targeted relevant information, from their peers and experts. Many peer to peer networks have proliferated over the past many years in India now, the challenge remains to ensure that with adequate moderation, the consequences of such medical advice and networking leads to better patient outcomes.

Specialized websites offering curated content – both long form and short form courses – are also on the rise. These are more in-depth, comprehensive and designed toward developing long-term clinical skills, with multiple interventions (online material, face to face lectures, audio/video content, interactive assessments).

Evidence-based content

Acknowledging the transition of the learning arc in this era of digital-first education, BMJ has come up with key targeted offerings for professional development of clinicians for all stages of their career – be it CME needs, research and development assistance or support at the point of care.

BMJ Learning offers medical education for doctors and other healthcare professionals. It features hundreds of accredited, peer-reviewed learning modules in text, video, and audio formats. The learning modules provided by BMJ Learning deal with everyday issues in primary care and hospital medicine. In India, BMJ Learning had received accreditation from Maharashtra Medical Council (MMC), Delhi Medical Council (DMC) and Goa Medical Council (GMC). Other accrediting organizations include European Board for Accreditation in Cardiology, University of Lancaster, Singapore Medical Council, Dubai Health Authority and many more.

As per a study, only four institutes account for a third of India’s research output, and around 57.3% medical colleges did not have single publication during the study period. These worrisome stats affect not only the funding received and institution rankings but also the morale of researchers in the country.

We understand that an overwhelming clinical burden leaves doctors with little time to pursue academic activities. This is exactly the problem Research to Publication addresses. Research to Publication is a tool developed by BMJ jointly in collaboration with The University of California, San Francisco (UCSF), which focuses on developing skills in clinical and public health research skills. It comprises stand-alone, self-study modules that let learners choose what to study, and do so at their own pace.


Using robust evidence-based methodology and expert opinion, the step by step guidance on diagnosis, prognosis, treatment and prevention is updated daily. This is achieved through rigorous and continuous evidence-based editorial processes, as well as the well-structured, consistent and intuitive way in which key evidence and relevant resources are displayed for instant use at the point of care.

Challenges

Though there are a plethora of digital interventions (learning materials, courses, point of care tools) available online, the challenge is to find the right resources which are evidence-based, and supported by credible medical organizations.

For clinicians and healthcare organizations, it is imperative to understand how online tech can be reconfigured to assist them in faster evidence-based decision making while prioritizing patient needs at the same time.

References

1. Reimagining the possible in the Indian healthcare ecosystem with emerging technologies, https://goo.gl/Zxyf1J
2. Ahuja (2018) Trends to watch in the healthcare industry in 2018, Business Today, https://goo.gl/zUpTqt
3. September 2018: Insights into Online Behavior of Indian Doctors, DocPlexus, https://goo.gl/iRfGXq
4. Dhir et al. (2017) E-Learning in Medical Education in India, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/29120336, Indian Pediatr. 2017 Oct 15;54 (10):871-877
5. Ayyar (2016), Startups build social networks for doctors, https://goo.gl/2cZ48g
6. Nundy et al (2016) The research output from Indian medical institutions between 2005 and 2014, Current Medicine Research and Practice

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