Why is it important? 

Digital health is transforming the access, delivery and availability of healthcare in the UK, and is set to revolutionise the healthcare sector in the future. Within the next decade, technologies such as telemedicine, smartphone apps, wearables and artificial intelligence (AI) are likely to be widely integrated in healthcare delivery. Whilst these have the potential to bring significant benefits, there are also risks, particularly in terms of health inequities, data protection and limitations of algorithms and AI.  

Whilst digital health itself is moving forward rapidly, undergraduate medical education remains relatively unchanged. The rate and scale of change introduced by digital health is exceptional, our graduates need to be equipped with a core set of digital health related knowledge, skills and attitudes to give them the necessary agility to utilise and critically evaluate any current or future digital health technologies. This is particularly relevant in the current COVID-19 pandemic, with the dramatic rise in digital remote consultations in both primary and secondary care 

The use of digital technology in medical education is also growing at a fast rate, with developments in virtual reality, artificial intelligence-led learning resources and increasing use of remote learning, particularly during the current COVID-19 pandemic. As these new technologies are being used, MEdIC is interested in exploring the impact of such developments on student learning, inclusivity and what role these methods of teaching can have alongside more traditional clinical placements.  

Innovation and research 

MEdIC is interested in exploring both the use of digital technologies within medical education, and how we may prepare our graduates for the digitalisation of healthcare 

MEdIC has played a leading role in the digitalisation of the primary care medical curriculum in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic. We are interested in exploring what are the implications and unintended consequences of delivering teaching using digital technologies, and how best can we develop e-learning resources rooted in sound educational pedagogical principles.  

From a digital health perspective, MEdIC has been involved in exploring innovations to include more digital health in the curriculum, such as use of remote digital consultations in our teaching. However we are also interested in exploring the possible risks of digital healthcare, equipping students to be able to work critically as future health leaders and consider the impact of such digitalisation on all sectors of our society, particularly those who are most vulnerable. 

If you’re interested in discussing a project or collaboration on this theme please contact Dr Viral Thakerar v.thakerar@imperial.ac.uk


Current active projects

  • Exploring how digital health can be integrated into the undergraduate medical curriculum 
  • Evaluating the digital transformation of the primary care undergraduate curriculum during the COVID-19 pandemic
  • Exploring the feasibility and acceptability of a serious game for teaching clinical reasoning

Selected publications

Digitally converting undergraduate primary care
Maini, A., Pistoll, C., Dutta, N., Thacker, N., Bhamjee, R., Mahoney, C., Thackerar, V., Kumar, S.
The Clinical Teacher (accepted for publication June 2020) 

Digital health in primary care: risks and recommendations
Neve, G., Fyfe, M., Hayhoe, B., Kumar, S.
British Journal of General Practice
(accepted for publication)