News Article

Technology Improves Medical Education but Can Create Gaps

By Sofía Garduño | Thu, 09/01/2022 - 17:14

Many educational institutions are prioritizing training in new technologies in their academic programs during the education of new health professionals. The use of digital technologies in medicine can reduce the access gaps, offer high quality processes and boost preventive medicine. However, digital education plans have to be homologated across universities so technology can reach everyone despite their location. 


After the COVID-19 pandemic, education cannot be thought of separately from digital tools and technology. The educational sector was transformed across all disciplines and levels and medicine was not an exception. AI, virtual reality and other technologies are being used to improve medical learning.


“Technology needs to support the development of an easier way of learning and teaching in the health sector,” said Luis Alonso Herrera, Director, INMEGEN. Technology has been used to support medical education and facilitate the acquisition of basic knowledge, the improvement of decision making, psychomotor skill and coordination, the enhancement of perceptual variation and the practice for critical events, among other skills. 


Physicians in training are easily adapting to this type of teaching because they are very fond of technology. The mission of academia is to provide them with the educational spaces offered by digital scenarios and the technological tools that they will need to serve patients. “Doctors need to start adopting tech during their residency to generate the necessary skills and exercise them in their whole career,” said Herrera. To keep promoting the use of technology by medical students, they ought to be encouraged to get involved in innovation as early as possible. 


“We must shift to a competency-based education model, specifically regarding digital competencies in health professionals to help them move from passive to active users. The scenario is very challenging but full of great possibilities. The obligation of training institutions is to generate these digital health skills,” said Jorge Valdéz García, Dean of the School of Medicine and Health Sciences at TES Salud, TEC de Monterrey. 


The health sector relies on collaboration to successfully shift towards digitization. “Tech adoption is an interdisciplinary work that requires efforts from all actors in the sector,” said Gabriela Clavel, CEO, Abeile Med. 


Likewise, teachers must continue to receive training on the emerging digital tools. “Health professionals have to be involved in this process to survive because there are specialties that are being threatened, such as radiology. AI is now part of imaging, which supports diagnosis. In the future, it will be possible for machines to provide a diagnosis. Adapting to technology is essential for survival,” said Agustín Zabulanes, Country Director, BSCI. Professionals often get acquainted with these new technologies through medical congresses, but these are commonly held in the central cities so the access to this information remains centralized.  


Technology is also helping to pave the path toward preventive medicine, helping strengthen prevention of certain diseases, reducing mortality levels and hospital admissions, treating patients in a more personalized way and increasing adherence to treatments. Unfortunately, these advances are not reaching all the regions of the country equally. “Technological developments are being developed in the country's largest cities, affecting primary care as they cannot reach everywhere,” said Eliseo Ruiz, Founder, Med Congress.


Another danger lays in the creation of an educational gap, as not all universities are already offering tech education. “These technologies must be implemented in all medical schools because, if they are not, a very large disparity can be created and we are going to have generations of doctors with very different training,” said Herrera. 


All actors are committed to partake in the digitalization of medical education to achieve the ultimate goal: improving patient experience. “Digitization of medical services will improve follow-ups and will result in better care for patients,” said Ruiz. “We have to consider the digitization of pre-hospital care, hospital care and medical education.” 

Sofía Garduño Sofía Garduño Journalist & Industry Analyst