In an increasingly digital world, the impact and scope of technology on the specialty of psychiatry will continue to grow. The rise of electronic medical records (EMRs), readily-available prescription drug databases, and health information exchanges represents a transformative change in the history of psychiatry. These technologies are only the first in a series of new information technologies that will continue to shape the field. Mobile apps, augmented reality, virtual reality, artificial intelligence, and big data are all active, nascent areas of mental health technology research that will likely make stronger inroads into the field.
These technology changes have inherent advantages and disadvantages on clinical care. Psychiatry trainees must be educated about clinical informatics, the study of information technology in the context of clinical care. Learning how clinical informatics can be applied and incorporated into psychiatric care can help trainees make informed choices about these advances, while understanding the risks and benefits. Psychiatrists will risk losing the opportunity to incorporate informatics as part of the practice of psychiatry if the training to critically evaluate and safely approach new mental health technologies is not offered to trainees who will work in an increasingly digital era.
This paper will introduce the importance of teaching clinical informatics to psychiatry trainees, explore current broader medical educational efforts outside of psychiatry, propose elements of a curriculum specific for psychiatry trainees, and propose a call for further action.