Training in digital knowledge and skills should become a new core component of training for future and current doctors in all Member States: this was agreed by representatives of students/junior doctors and deans, gathered at the initiative of the European Commission and Erasmus University Medical Center on 12 April in Rotterdam. A set of recommendations for action were developed at this meeting, and participants committed themselves to taking them forward in their own national context to raise policy makers’ awareness.

Deans, educational directors and student representatives from various medical schools across Europe, as well as representatives of professional and student organisations, innovators and policy makers had the possibility to listen to different keynote speeches and to work interactively in small “break-out session” groups for more in-depth discussion and brainstorming on the question of how to ensure doctors remain 'future-proof' in the digital age.

Based on day's discussions, participants agreed on 4 key principles, accompanied by concrete actions to be brought forward:

  1. to advance digital knowledge, skills and competences as a new core component of training for future and current doctors; this could entail updating education programmes and curricula, but also developing cross-disciplinary communication skills;
  2. to embed in co-creation training for future and current doctors in institutional digitalisation strategies and policies, by co-creating courses with stakeholders and monitoring impact at all levels;
  3. to promote innovative structures and networks to create diversity in digital skills training for medical doctors. This would entail capacity building, peer to peer learning, but also funding for training and new platforms;
  4. to increase interoperability and mobility for medical students, doctors, patients and data by reviewing the legal and regulatory frameworks or setting minimum digital health competency.

Participants were encouraged to promote these principles in their own national context and to raise policy makers’ awareness of them, in order to embed them in future considerations on curricula design. Education and training curricula for health professionals are designed differently across countries, and their development may involve various stakeholders, including from government, universities and medical organisations. One of the clear messages of participants was that reform should not only address the initial training of doctors (i.e at undergraduate level), but that life-long learning opportunities in this area should be made available.

Some participants called for action at EU level, for instance by placing specific digital healthcare skills on the EU skills agenda, defining EU-wide standards on core digital skills, or ensuring continued EU funds for digital training.