This article was exclusively written for the Sting by Dr Dat Nguyen-Dinh. The writer is an IFMSA-Québec alumni and family medicine resident in Montreal, Canada. He is also affiliated to the International Federation of Medical Students Associations (IFMSA). However, the opinions expressed in this piece belong strictly to the writer and do not necessarily reflect IFMSA’s view on the topic, nor The European Sting’s one.
The 4th Industrial Revolution or “Industry 4.0” describes a trend in integrating smart technologies and cyber-physical systems in the manufacturing process. In healthcare, this revolution has yielded numerous technologies that aim to improve the quality and efficiency of patient care. Whether it is integrating bedside data directly into electronic medical records or using Artificial Intelligence to increase diagnosis accuracy, it is clear that medical students will have to interact with these new technologies during their training.
Learning the Language of Smart Systems
It is important for medical students to become fluent in the different cyber-physical systems that will be integrated into patient care, first of all, to be able to harness them to improve workflow and secondly to understand how they can fail. Medical students should explore different applications to automate repetitive tasks and delegate simple ones. The majority of medical students today are millennials, for whom interfacing with these technologies might be easier than their more senior colleagues. That is why medical students will play a key role in the future development and implementation of smart systems in healthcare.
Close the Loop: Using Information Technology to Improve Learning
As a medical student, you often don’t see the outcomes of the patients you encounter during your brief rotations (this is especially true for rotations like Emergency Medicine). This represents an important obstacle to the learning process because there is no feedback to complete the learning loop. With the increasing availability of electronic medical records, it is much easier to check on patient outcomes you have seen and treated. It is essential for medical students to profit from these new information technologies to maximize learning from each patient encounter.
Using FOAMed to Learn New Skills
The big data revolution in health care is not only connecting machines and systems together, but also connecting people. Free Open Access Medical Education or “FOAMed” is a revolution in medical education, harnessing the power of social media and the internet to create, share, curate, and consume medical knowledge. There is a growing community of clinician educators dedicated into disseminating medical knowledge through blogs and podcasts in an effort to uphold the highest standard of patient care. Medical students should learn skills such as media editing, knowledge translation, and website/blog management to be able to fully participate in this new movement, not only as a consumer but also as a contributor.
Train the Brain: Focus on What Machines Can’t Do
As the 4th revolution progresses, we will see more integration of smart systems into health care, possibly replacing humans in certain situations. Though it is unlikely that these systems will replace doctors in the near future, it is important to understand how they can complement the workflow of healthcare and how they can affect patient care. Medical students should also focus to develop what is uniquely human: their clinical judgement. Finally, the art of medicine is not only to gather data in order to make a diagnosis. Being a doctor also means being human for other humans in their time of need, and fortunately there’s no app for that yet.
About the author
Dr Dat Nguyen-Dinh is an IFMSA-Québec alumni and family medicine resident in Montreal, Canada. He is interested in global health, emergency medicine and medical education.