University of Oulu

Giunti, G., Guisado-Fernandez, E., Belani, H., & Lacalle-Remigio, J. R. (2019). Mapping the Access of Future Doctors to Health Information Technologies Training in the European Union: Cross-Sectional Descriptive Study. Journal of Medical Internet Research, 21(8), e14086.

Mapping the access of future doctors to health information technologies training in the European Union : cross-sectional descriptive study

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Author: Giunti, Guido1; Guisado-Fernandez, Estefania2,3; Belani, Hrvoje4;
Organizations: 1University of Oulu, Oulu, Finland
2University College Dublin School of Public Health, Physiotherapy and Sports Science, Dublin, Ireland
3Insight Centre for Data Analytics, Dublin, Ireland
4Ministry of Health, Zagreb, Croatia
5Universidad de Sevilla, Seville, Spain
Format: article
Version: published version
Access: open
Online Access: PDF Full Text (PDF, 0.4 MB)
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Language: English
Published: JMIR Publications, 2019
Publish Date: 2019-08-14


Background: Health information technologies (HITs) such as electronic health records (EHR) and telemedicine services are currently used to assist clinicians provide care to patients. There are many barriers to HIT adoption, including mismatches between investments and benefits, disruptions in the workflow, and concerns about privacy and confidentiality. The lack of HIT training of health professionals as a workforce is an increasingly recognized and understudied barrier.

Objective: The purpose of this study is to describe what courses on HIT topics are available at the graduate level for future health professionals in the European Union (EU) and to explore possible determining factors for their exposure to these courses.

Methods: A cross-sectional descriptive study of EU medical schools was performed to explore the prevalence of HIT courses. The curricula of all identified higher learning institutions that offer a medical degree were manually explored to identify graduate-level courses that offer specific training on HIT topics. HIT topics were defined as courses or subjects that provided knowledge on the design, development, use, and implementation of HIT. Associations among potential factors such as population, yearly medical graduates, total number of physicians, EHR presence, and gross domestic product (GDP) were explored.

Results: A total of 302 medical schools from the 28 member states of the EU were explored. Only about one-third (90/302, 29.80%) of all medical degree curricula offered any kind of HIT course at the graduate level; in the medical schools that offered HIT courses, the courses were often mandatory (58/90, 64.44%). In most EU countries, HIT courses are offered in less than half of the medical schools, regardless of the country’s GDP per capita. Countries with the highest percentages of HIT course presence have the lowest GDP per capita. There seems to be a weak inverse correlation (–0.49) between the two variables (GDP per capita and HIT course presence). There is a trend between the availability of medical human resources and an increase in the presence of HIT courses, with Romania, Croatia, and Greece as outliers in this respect.

Conclusions: The current state of medical training in the EU leaves much room for improvement. Further studies are required for in-depth analysis of the content and manner of instruction that would fit present and future needs of HIT.

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Series: Journal of medical internet research
ISSN: 1439-4456
ISSN-E: 1438-8871
ISSN-L: 1439-4456
Volume: 21
Issue: 8
Article number: e14086
DOI: 10.2196/14086
Type of Publication: A1 Journal article – refereed
Field of Science: 113 Computer and information sciences
217 Medical engineering
3111 Biomedicine
3121 General medicine, internal medicine and other clinical medicine
3141 Health care science
Funding: GG and EG-F gratefully acknowledge the grant (number 676201) for the Connected Health Early-stage researcher Support System (CHESS ITN) from the Horizon 2020 Framework Programme of the European Commission. This article is based upon work from COST Action ENJECT TD 1405, supported by COST (European Cooperation in Science and Technology;
EU Grant Number: (676201) CHESS - Connected Health Early Stage Researcher Support System
Copyright information: © Guido Giunti, Estefania Guisado-Fernandez, Hrvoje Belani, Juan R Lacalle-Remigio. Originally published in the Journal of Medical Internet Research (, 04.08.2019. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work, first published in the Journal of Medical Internet Research, is properly cited. The complete bibliographic information, a link to the original publication on, as well as this copyright and license information must be included.