Student perspectives on health informatics in a medical curriculum: A case study




health informatics, medical students, curriculum, digital health, ehealth


Introduction: Health informatics (HI) is the study and practice of technology used to improve the quality and efficiency of healthcare. Formal HI teaching lacks visibility in most Australasian medical schools. In this study, medical students collected data from their peers and recent graduates on the teaching and learning of HI to inform development of a needs-based integrated HI curriculum.

Methods: This mixed-methods case study of our medical degree program used clinically relevant vignettes to explore student confidence and opinions on HI. Current HI learning was benchmarked against recommendations. Recent graduates from University of Otago Medical School participated in an online survey (n = 26), and five focus group interviews of final-year medical students (n = 17) were carried out by a peer student.

Results: More than half of the participants surveyed felt confident in most HI topics, though many were less confident in telemedicine, evaluating electronic resources for patient use, data communication and data storage. Most students recalled learning some HI principles and agreed these should be integrated within their degree. Students highlighted that HI curriculum development should consider students’ self-identity as digital natives and the need for clinically situated, relevant and authentic learning to avoid tensions between theoretical HI concepts and clinical environments.

Conclusion: Medical students are critical consumers of potential HI curriculum content and expressed clear preferences for clinically relevant and up-to-date HI content. Key challenges in developing an HI curriculum will be ensuring a student-centered, authentic, contemporary and future-focused curriculum, with relevance demonstrated to digital native students.


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How to Cite

Townsley, H., Sumner, B., O’Neill, A., Kenwright, D., Wilkinson, T., & Grainger, R. (2024). Student perspectives on health informatics in a medical curriculum: A case study. Focus on Health Professional Education: A Multi-Professional Journal, 25(1), 17–36.