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Foundations of Digital Health

CPD - short course
Digital health

What is an RCSI Online short course?

RCSI understands that your future in healthcare is digital and the imperative for healthcare professionals to enhance their knowledge for effective adaptation to digital tools.  The Foundation of Digital Health course is meticulously designed, centring on three core elements: Data, digital technologies, and their integration within a dynamic healthcare system.

This unique course is a fully self-paced, on-demand learning experience, ideal for busy professionals seeking flexibility. Unlike our traditional courses that feature live webinars, this course offers you the freedom to engage with the material at your own pace and on your own schedule.

Delivered through an array of diverse and engaging media formats, including interactive videos, quizzes, and tailored activities, the course material is both accessible and engaging. Each module has been crafted by industry experts, ensuring that the content is not only relevant but also rooted in real-world applications. This dynamic approach to learning allows you to immerse yourself in the course themes, apply your knowledge through practical exercises, and ultimately earn an RCSI Certificate upon completion.

RCSI Online's Continuing Professional Development (CPD) Digital Health Technologies course provides an overview of  how health data generated by the consumer through smartphones and other technologies, coupled with data generated through patient interactions with healthcare practitioners, might be harnessed to enhance patient care and deliver operational efficiency.

Why Foundations of Digital Health?

Contemporary healthcare systems generate large amounts of data. In an ideal scenario, these systems would be closely interlinked and the data within them easily shared to optimise care for patients. However, the complexities of both healthcare and data, as well as the scale of these systems and the large number of different individuals involved – healthcare professionals and patients – means this is far from simple.

This new short course from RCSI – which counts towards continuous professional development credits – will examine some of the key technologies relevant to digital health today. It will guide you towards an understanding of these technologies and how they are used on an operational level.

The course will explore how health data generated by the consumer through smartphones and other technologies, coupled with data generated through patient interactions with healthcare practitioners, might be harnessed to enhance patient care and deliver operational efficiency.

Register your interest

Follow in the path of former students who have embraced 230 years of teaching excellence. Driven by the promise of 'leading the world to better health', RSCI has been at the forefront of international healthcare education since our establishment in 1784, and we have a worldwide reputation for delivering excellent Undergraduate and Postgraduate health professions education.

RCSI's singular healthcare focus is evident through all our Postgraduate programmes, offering innovative, insight-rich and immersive development opportunities for both current and future leaders in healthcare.

Participants on this five-week course will: 

  • Be able to explain complex adaptive healthcare systems, and their implications for digital health, to colleagues.  
  • Be able to critically evaluate new technologies and their potential benefits.
  • Acquire an overview of the clinical uses and characteristics of contemporary health data and how it can be applied in healthcare.
  • Have the ability to identify opportunities and challenges associated with digital health technology and data.
  • Have the tools to integrate this knowledge into their existing practice. 

By the end of the course, you should have a good understanding of the opportunities, challenges and complexities of digital health.  

Week one: You will learn about healthcare as a complex adaptive system with many different autonomous agents including patients, professionals and managers, all of whom may have different motivations and goals. A new technology, for instance, may lead to advancements in patient care, but could also lead to some health professionals being disempowered or redundant; another technology could create cost savings in one part of a hospital but have the unintended consequence of reducing the time a patient has to talk with a clinician. You should come to understand that leading digital transformation and change in healthcare requires building relationships and collaborating towards a common vision.

Week two: You will develop an understanding of the clinical uses and characteristics of health data. You will explore how and why it is complex: unlike, for instance, financial data – which is essentially binary – there are approximately 300,000 individual concepts documented in SNOMED CT, a computerised, comprehensive and multilingual system of clinical healthcare terminology; furthermore, there are millions of relationships between the  concepts. You will also learn how to manage this complexity with rigour, and how to solve some of the problems that can arise when different systems communicate with one another using different methods and processes.

Week three: In week three, you will learn about applying digital technologies in healthcare, exploring older, more-established technologies such as electronic medical health records and telemedicine alongside newer advances such as blockchain, artificial intelligence and 3-D printing. You will also learn about the values of these technologies and how to realise their benefits.

Week four: Finally, you will explore the opportunities and challenges posed by digital health technologies. You will look at global leaders in digital healthcare technology and discover more about the differences in how you use and apply these technologies. Digital divides between both generations and different income groups require healthcare professionals to proceed with care, as otherwise healthcare could become more unequal. And, while in some countries most notably Singapore, technology can be used to monitor aspects of population health, other cultures and systems may be more resistant to large amounts of centrally-held data. With this in mind, you on this programme will be provided with the tools to manage these risks and maximise the benefits of digital healthcare.

Week five: Here, you will reflect on your learning and consider how to bring this knowledge to your professional practice. 

This five-week course is fully online, so that you can study at a pace that suits your lifestyle. You will not be required to attend live sessions, ensuring flexibility for your schedule. The course consists of five weeks of content, including four weeks of teaching and a final week for completing a personal learning plan. Learning content is delivered primarily through pre-recorded video lectures and online activities.

Each week, there will be a recorded 90-minute webinar available, focusing on key topics. These webinars are accessible at any time for your convenience.

We understand that online learning might be a new experience for some. Our virtual learning environment (VLE) is intuitive, accessible, and easy to navigate. A dedicated programme coordinator will be available to assist with any technical difficulties or questions about learning online.

At the start of the course, we provide short orientation videos to familiarise you with the platform and course format.

This course is suitable for any healthcare professionals, whether working as clinicians or in a managerial stream, who wish to learn about and drive digital change in their workplace and professional practice, while also being aware of the challenges involved in bringing about change within healthcare. It may also be of interest to some IT professionals working in healthcare.

David Rowlands

David Rowlands is a management consultant specialising in health and health informatics and has recently launched the Digital Health Workforce Academy – a provider of online training courses in health informatics – in collaboration with HISA. David has a broad background in the health sector and has worked for public sector health agencies in two states as well as the Commonwealth Department and has held Directorships in a variety of not-for-profit health and related agencies. David’s executive roles have included managing health services; health service planning and performance management; information management and management of corporate services and has also led national strategic initiatives in Australia and Asia.

David is a former HISA Chair and remains committed to developing Australia’s health informatics capabilities. He is the author of A Practitioner’s Guide to Health Informatics in Australia, available through the HISA Shop.

Upon successful completion of this course, participants will receive a RCSI Completion Certificate. Achieving this Certificate and earning continuous professional development (CPD) points involves passing weekly MCQs, engaging in online discussions, and participating in reflective exercises, including the completion of a personal action plan. These components are designed to be flexible, allowing you to progress at your own pace while ensuring a comprehensive learning experience.

Although this course does not carry credits as per the European Credit Transfer System, it upholds rigorous quality assurance standards to provide an excellent educational experience. The course has been approved by the RCSI Professional Development and Practice Committee and is accredited for CPD points in line with the Irish Medical Council guidelines. Participants seeking recognition in other jurisdictions should verify the applicability of these CPD points as per their local requirements.

Note: RCSI accepts no obligation to refund any fee, or part thereof, in respect of a participant who chooses to withdraw from or does not complete a course.

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