Digital health competencies for primary healthcare professionals: A scoping review.

Journal Article (Review)

BACKGROUND: Despite digital health providing opportunities to enhance the quality, efficiency and safety of primary healthcare, the adoption of digital tools and technologies has been slow, partly because of poor digital health literacy. For primary healthcare systems to take full advantage of these technologies, a capable, digitally literate workforce is necessary. Still, the essential digital health competencies (DHCs) for primary healthcare have not been explored. This review aims to examine the broad literature on DHCs as it applies to Primary Care (PC) settings. METHODS: We performed a scoping review on all types of research linking DHCs to PC. We searched all major databases including Medline, Embase, CINAHL, and Cochrane Library in November 2019. Concurrently, a thorough grey literature search was performed through OpenGrey, ResearchGate, Google Scholar, and key government and relevant professional associations' websites. Screening and selection of studies was performed in pairs, and data was analysed and presented using a narrative, descriptive approach. Thematic analysis was performed to identify key DHC domains. RESULTS: A total of 28 articles were included, most of them (54 %) published before 2005. These articles were primarily aimed at PC physicians or general practitioners, and focused on improving knowledge about information technologies and medical informatics, basic computer and information literacy, and optimal use of electronic medical records. We identified 17 DHC domains, and important knowledge gaps related to digital health education and curriculum integration, the need for evidence of the impact of services, and the importance of wider support for digital health. CONCLUSIONS: Literature explicitly linking DHCs to PC was mostly published over a decade ago. There is a need for an updated and current set of DHCs for PC professionals to more consistently reap the benefits of digital technologies. This review identified key DHC domains and statements that may be used to guide on the development of a set of DHC for PC, and critical knowledge gaps and needs to be considered. Such a DHC set may be used for curricula development and for ensuring that the essential DHC for PC are met at a clinical or organizational level, and eventually improve health outcomes.

Full Text

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • Jimenez, G; Spinazze, P; Matchar, D; Koh Choon Huat, G; van der Kleij, RMJJ; Chavannes, NH; Car, J

Published Date

  • November 2020

Published In

Volume / Issue

  • 143 /

Start / End Page

  • 104260 -

PubMed ID

  • 32919345

Pubmed Central ID

  • 32919345

Electronic International Standard Serial Number (EISSN)

  • 1872-8243

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.1016/j.ijmedinf.2020.104260


  • eng

Conference Location

  • Ireland