EAPM: Training for doctors and nurses not keeping pace with technological advances

Written by Martin Banks on 20 July 2018 in News
News

The European Alliance for Personalised Medicine (EAPM) has called for healthcare professionals to be given competences that “reflect the latest advances and discoveries in medical research.”

Photo credit: Pixabay


The Brussels-based EAPM says it is increasingly concerned that traditional training methods for doctors and nurses is not keeping pace with technological advances in medicine.

It also says that because of the “breathtaking pace” of science in healthcare, much knowledge is becoming “incomplete quickly, or worse, outdated.”

Health care professionals (HCPs), it says, need to have professional competences that “reflects the latest advances and discoveries in medical research and healthcare - allowing the right treatment for the right patient at the right time.”

EAPM executive director Denis Horgan said, “The way in which healthcare is delivered to the patient is changing and it is changing fast. Advances in personalised medicine must fundamentally alter the scope, content and manner in which HCPs are educated.”

EAPM has helped promote the use of personalised medicine, defined as a move away from a 'one size fits all' approach to patient care to one which uses new approaches to “better manage” patients’ health.

The aim, says the alliance, is to target therapies to achieve the best outcomes in the management of a patient's disease.

EAPM believes that education is important, with Horgan adding, “Certainly, in healthcare, and particularly in personalised medicine, we have long believed that ongoing training of HCPs is vital.”

The alliance has called on the EU to support the development of a Europe-wide education and training of healthcare professionals’ curriculum “for the personalised medicine era.”

The EU, says EAPM, should facilitate the development of an education and training strategy for HCPs in personalised medicine.

Horgan said, “The way in which healthcare is delivered to the patient is changing and it is changing fast. Advances in personalised medicine must fundamentally alter the scope, content and manner in which HCPs are educated.”

The alliance, which brings together leading healthcare experts and patient advocates, says that education of HCPs in personalised medicine “must be placed on the policy and political agenda as a priority and matter of urgency.”

Horgan added, “If this fails to occur the result will be a scarcity of the healthcare professional capital needed to support its implementation to the detriment of patients across Europe.”

EAPM has identified priority areas that it believes the EU must “comprehensively address” in order to further build upon the knowledge of HCPs and the potential of personalised medicine for European citizens.

It also says that a minimum set of core competencies that relate to understanding the concept of personalised medicine, “necessary for HCPs to practice personalised medicine effectively”, must be established.

Horgan said, “HCPs need to have professional competence that reflects the latest advances and discoveries in medical research and healthcare - allowing the right treatment for the right patient at the right time.

“Unfortunately, at the moment, the level of competence of such professionals in the rapidly moving personalised medicine era is lagging behind technology. Continuing professional development must be put into place as a matter of urgency.”

“On top of this, there is a strong need for a central repository of information that can be accessed in real time by HCPs to discuss topics in real time with their patients.”

EAPM says that an EU-wide body, such as a ‘European observatory’ on HCP education for personalised medicine, should be created to coordinate and support all identified policy areas. It says this could “facilitate data sharing, support the exchange of good practices and assist in identifying core competences for HCPs, together with the most appropriate educational tools.”

Horgan said, “The way in which healthcare is delivered to the patient is changing and it is changing fast. Advances in personalised medicine must fundamentally alter the scope, content and manner in which HCPs are educated.”

The alliance has, meanwhile, welcomed possible EU moves to introduce a so-called “proportionality” test when regulating certain professions, which include healthcare professionals, or HCPs.

The issue is currently the subject of ongoing discussions in the European Parliament with its STEPs group of MEPs (specialised treatment for Europe’s patients).

The proposal initially met with some opposition in certain EU countries, notably Germany, Austria, France, Romania and Hungary, as well as within the European Parliament itself.

However, Parliament and the Council managed to agree that the “proportionality” test should apply to jobs coming under the professional qualifications directive.

The aim of the proposal is the Commission’s wish to make sure that, when member states regulate professions, the latter do not employ disproportionate and burdensome rules restricting professionals moving between EU countries.

To operate in regulated professions, workers have to obtain specific qualifications or a specific title.

But different requirements across the EU may make it difficult for qualified professionals to apply for vacancies in other member states.

And according to the Commission, it is often difficult to get information on what conditions these professionals have to comply with to apply for a job in another country.

The Commission has stated that the freedom to choose an occupation is a fundamental right and that national rules “organising access to regulated professions should not constitute any unjustified and disproportionate obstacle to the exercise of those fundamental rights”.

It also notes that it falls within the member states’ gift to decide whether and how to regulate a profession, albeit under the principles of non-discrimination and proportionality.

The alliance says the principle of proportionality ensures that regulations should be applied in a non-discriminatory manner; be justified by public interest objectives; be suitable for securing the attainment of the objective which they pursue; and not go beyond what is necessary in order to attain it.

Previously, the Commission introduced a process under which member states had to carry out a screening of all their legislation on all professions regulated in their country.

It has also been recognised that account should be taken of the fact that technological developments “may reduce the asymmetry of information between consumers and professionals”. In view of the speed of technological change and scientific progress, up-dates in access requirements may be of particular importance for a number of professions.

About the author

Martin Banks is a senior reporter for the Parliament Magazine

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