New training opportunities for healthcare professionals and digital skills experts

Today nobody is being surprised to see a smartwatch or bracelet that measures steps or pulse on people’s wrists. Different health apps for healthier and more active life are being installed in almost every person’s smartphone. Hundreds of new websites, social media accounts, and groups are being created every day for the health-related purposes. New emerging technologies like AI, VR, 3D revolutionizing healthcare through preventing diseases, supporting diagnostics, etc.

This are only a very few examples of how digitalization and technologies influencing people lives, where health is certainly one of the priority areas. “The successful transformation of health depends on digital health literacy of every European citizen. It is very important that today everyone has access to the skills and knowledge to use digital technologies and reduce health inequalities”, says Nenja Wolbers, representative from Digitale Chancen Foundation in Germany.

According to Eurostat, at the EU level, in 2022, 52 % citizens searched health-related information online. Use of Internet health-related issues varies with country of residence. The most frequent use of health-related information on the Internet is in Finland (81 %) and the lowest is in Romania 29 %. Other EU countries like Lithuania (62 %), Greece (58 %) and Slovenia (50 %) and Germany (37 %) share relatively similar percentages.  According to the same survey 33 % of citizens use the Internet to make an appointment with a practitioner via a website, 24 % access personal health records online, and another 18 % use it to access other health services via a website or app instead of having to go to the hospital or visit a doctor.  According to the European Commission eHealth Action Plan 2012-2020, one of the main barriers regarding e-health is precisely the lack of awareness, confidence and skills to find, understand and appraise online health information – and apply this knowledge to make health decisions and to trust e-health solutions.

Based on the results of the desk research and focus groups the project team developed a training course to become E-health guides” [NW1] for the professionals working not only in healthcare institutions but also digital experts, librariens, neihbourhood counselors who work with adults and support them in acquiring digital skills. The course for “E-health guides” includes 5 modules of following concrete topics: i) skills and competences to facilitate the usage of e-health; ii) data privacy; iii) searching and selecting information; iv) interaction with and usage of services and apps; v) communication and connection with health professionals.

By completing 32 hours of the training course, the “E-health guides” will be able to introduce e-health services that can be used to improve daily life of people, they will be able to interact with data online, list the skills and knowledge needed for effective search and selection of information online by using Google search engine, lens, safe browsing on social medias as well as match apps to the health needs of people, classify different types of e-health services, etc.

Now, at this project stage, all the partners are working on localizing the training kit in their own national context and preparing for adults training which will start in May-June this year.