Addressing Digital Wellness in Contemporary Training and Practice
Three aspects of “digital wellness” offer relevant ideas about how trainees may be better supported and prepared for the transition to contemporary practice. First, caring for patients in a digital environment is a frontier that, if not empathetically and effectively addressed during medical training, may have unanticipated consequences on the patient–clinician relationship.2 Today’s trainees may be facile users of technology who are accustomed to transitioning from “scene to screen,” but new platforms, including online patient portals tied to electronic health records, as well as telemedicine for triage, consultation, and rural primary care, are reshaping how both patients and physicians use digital media in clinical contexts. To deliver high-quality care and sustain career satisfaction, trainees may benefit from learning experiences that engage these technologies while remaining grounded in the principles of patient-centered practice.
Second, trainees can contribute to new standards for physician professionalism in the social media era. While the American Medical Association endorses separating one’s personal and professional online identities,3 trainees can and should help define more practical approaches to maintaining a digital presence that is accessible and acceptable to both patients and the profession. The Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education can strengthen these efforts by including online behavior as part of the professionalism core competency, which may help to reduce potential future repercussions in clinical practice.4
Finally, as patients now use the Internet not only to find but also to compare and rate their physicians, trainees need to be aware of how online decision-support tools, ranging from the ProPublica Surgeon Scorecard to Yelp, will begin to affect their future practices and reputations. The brave new online world of patient-reported quality metrics may also have profound effects on the value-based payment models that will influence how trainees maintain their careers.
Digital wellness should not be overlooked as a component of contemporary training. Students and residents can support and be supported in efforts to enhance engagement with digital innovation in clinical practice and education.