How to prepare the future generation of physicians

With patients starting to become the point-of-care, the relationship between doctor and patient has moved into a more equal partnership. Digital technology is starting to play a more important role in medicine, and it is critical to prepare the future generation of physicians for what is to come and what they can expect for their careers. In this article, we look at the ways in which medical students will need to be educated for the future.

  • Doctor, prepare yourself, digital health is on its way!

Profound changes in healthcare have been set in motion with the advancements of IT, digital tech, and social media channels. Online communities have the ability to empower patients and they are pushing for a better and more equal doctor-patient relationship. Patients are braver: they ask more questions and they require a different kind of doctor-patient relationship than they needed before.

The development of digital health technologies is happening at lightning speed and aspiring physicians need to begin acquiring digital literacy in medical school. The trend to create more and more small, digitalised and connected medical devices for personal use is ever-growing. Indeed, the use of portable diagnostic tools, medical drones, telemedicine, and 3D printing is pushing patients to become the point-of-care. In the coming years, these technologies will allow patients to measure their vital signs at home without the need to visit medical facilities. No doubt, healthcare is moving from the reactive to the preventative, as we move towards direct-to-consumer genetic testing and the appearance of AI.

Medical professionals in the future may well prefer to get a job as a translator between the patient and the technical data. They could guide the patient through the paths of digital health as well as counsel them through their healthcare choices, rather than being the fountain of medical knowledge and the only decision-maker for their choice of treatment.

  • Allow students to understand and embrace patient design

For a long time, the medical community has disregarded and left out the most important party for every huge decision made regarding healthcare: the patient. Medical students today should embrace and understand that the patient is the most important player. It doesn’t matter if it’s the development of a new drug, shaping the blueprint of a new medical facility, or designing a new treatment course of action, the patient should be involved.

Patients need to be involved on the advisory board of large pharmaceutical companies, hospitals, and medical facilities. They should be included at conferences and medical events. Once students get used to this, especially when they learn it at medical school, it will be easier when they are in the field.

  • Let students work with patients in education from the first day

Medical students should be around real patients from the beginning of their studies, so that they can learn better from their experiences. They will have a much better grasp on a patients’ suffering and understand their way of thinking, such as how the patient might try to solve their own health problems with or without digital tech. Medical students need to be aware of the new fitness and health gadgets on the market and keep up to date with these wearables, and other digital health solutions. They can assist patients on a better level if they are familiar with the most recent innovations.

  • Allow students to use cutting-edge learning tools

There is so much variety in online learning tools, from quizzes, apps, TED talks, lectures on YouTube, etc. Medical school professors need to be aware of all the platforms to allow the students to see the profession through the advances in technology, as well as traditional teaching.

A good example is the Anatomage Table that has just arrived at Humanitas University. The tool offers the very first virtual dissection program, which is excellent for teaching anatomy to students through a Hololens mixed reality device.

  • Showcase new technologies in the classroom

Familiarising students with the tools that they will be using in the future once they have qualified is of utmost importance. Virtual and augmented reality (VR/AR), artificial intelligence, 3D printing, cheap genome sequencing, and robotics are all technologies that we are seeing in medicine today. Furthermore, the world of healthcare is changing quickly with changes in technology and social structures, and if medical professionals don’t jump on board the ship, it will leave them behind. It is critical for the medical students of today to learn about and see these new technologies in action.

Moreover, medical students should try out new wearables, fitness trackers, and health apps so that they are able to recommend them to patients.

If a physician is familiar with health and fitness technology, it will also be much easier to grasp their patients’ questions and concerns about them.

  • Gamify processes

This isn’t to say that revising, memorising, and using age-old pearls of wisdom are not genuinely feasible ways of gaining medical knowledge. However, using gamification scenarios could help to make learning more productive and fun. And, why not have fun while studying? There are many methods of gamification available that break away from traditional learning techniques, while enhancing teamwork skills.

Overall, there isn’t a one size fits all education method for teaching the future generation of physicians. But through the different methods outlined above, it is critical that the medical students of today should become more in touch with the patient, learn about new technologies, and keep abreast of emerging digital health tech in development.


Humanitas is a highly specialized Hospital, Research and Teaching Center. Built around centers for the prevention and treatment of cancer, cardiovascular, neurological and orthopedic disease – together with an Ophthalmic Center and a Fertility Center – Humanitas also operates a highly specialised Emergency Department.