Are you interested in growing expertise in digital health? Here’s the low down on university courses being offered in the UK for those looking to lead in the field.
The healthcare industry has a growing demand for digital health specialists. Now, in the wake of the pandemic, the need is growing ever more rapidly due to new remote care models, telemedicine and digitalisation. This makes digital health a fantastic niche for qualified professionals to make their own. It offers students the opportunity to step into a global market predicted to be worth £408 billion by 2025.
Some of the world’s biggest tech companies – including Google, Apple, Amazon, Microsoft, Sony, Samsung, and Huawei – have research and development programmes dedicated to digital health. So, the opportunities truly are astounding.
In addition to equipping students with the skills needed to work in the world’s most technologically advanced facilities, a postgraduate course in digital health opens up a wealth of opportunities for making a genuinely positive impact on the planet.
Of course, these courses come with some prerequisites, making them particularly suitable for certain individuals.
Who is the ideal candidate for a postgraduate digital health degree?
To study in the UK, students need proven English language proficiency, and in most cases, an honours degree. However, it’s not necessary to have studied medicine to gain a digital health qualification.
People with degrees in STEM-related fields like engineering, mathematics, computer science, software engineering, and statistics may be an ideal fit for the world of digital health. Then, of course, there are the health-related disciplines like medicine, nursing, life sciences, psychology, public health, forensic science, and neuroscience. Those who have a law or business degree may also be eligible to apply.
Most importantly, prospective students need to be excited about the prospect of diving into an interdisciplinary field full of people dedicated to improving the world through the development of healthtech solutions. Work in this field leads to more rapid diagnosis of illnesses, better treatment, improved care models for patients, improved efficiency in clinical settings, and so much more.
To facilitate this vital work, the following four UK universities each offer a cutting-edge educational experience. The courses have been designed to help students reach their goals and establish new ones by expanding their knowledge and capabilities.
The University of Central Lancashire
The University of Central Lancashire offers a Postgraduate Certificate (PGCert), a Postgraduate Diploma (PGDip), and a Master of Science (MSc) in Digital Health, with all of these courses delivered entirely online. This flexible approach allows students to fit studies around their employment and other commitments easily.
The university provides a strong grounding in subjects like robotics, wearables, artificial intelligence, and how these technologies work within the NHS. However, the attention doesn’t remain exclusively on the tech side of the equation. The University of Central Lancashire’s postgraduate digital health courses are designed to steer students towards the delivery of community-based healthcare, focusing on remote and rural areas, and health inequalities. The governing ethos is to deliver solutions that minimise the risk to both patients and healthcare workers while maximising the access needed to perform optimally.
The three award programmes offered – PGCert, PGDip, and MSc – allow students to tailor their educational experience to suit interests and professional needs. The Master of Science programme provides students the opportunity to engage in in-depth research, professional projects, and evidence-based practice.
The University of St Andrews
Scotland’s first university, The University of St Andrews, offers a Postgraduate Diploma(PGDIP) and Master of Science (MSC) in Digital Health. The programme is integrated with the Sir James Mackenzie Institute for Early Diagnosis, meaning students can participate in current digital health research in the field of diagnostics, biophotonics, and health data research.
Of course, the practical work is underpinned by a robust theoretical groundwork, with students taken through every aspect of health data, from the tech that produces it, to the methods and tools used to analyse it. The modules also cover the interplay of data and clinical decision making, ethics, and the challenges involved in handling patient data.
Once the theoretical foundation has been established; students get experience developing solutions to real-world medical problems. The University of St Andrews has a strong focus on bioinformatics and the ability to translate complex health concepts and academic thinking into recommendations that can be understood by a wider audience, including medical practitioners and policymakers.
The teaching is research-led and multidisciplinary, allowing students to delve into computer science, statistics, data mining, information visualisation, and biomedical imaging. The Master of Science (Msc) in Digital Health course culminates with a supervised personal project, allowing students to focus on a chosen niche and produce a research report, policy proposal, or multi-media project.
The University of Bristol
The University of Bristol offers a Master of Science (MSc) in Digital Health, with courses tailored to different student backgrounds. Students with a STEM-based degree in fields like computer science, engineering, or mathematics, will be introduced to the elements of healthcare they need to understand to apply their existing knowledge to digital health. Those with degrees in medicine, health science, life science, and related disciplines will focus more on e-health, data analysis, and coding.
The programme provides a strong foundation in safety and ethics, ensuring students can assess and develop new healthcare technologies according to good governance. The MSc also includes a summer project, allowing students to work on matters of real need in the NHS or the healthcare industry at large.
As digital health is a multidisciplinary field, students at the University of Bristol are allowed to work with graduates from diverse disciplines, allowing them to seamlessly step into environments they will find once they start working in the industry.
The learning environment is situated in the University of Bristol‘s Department of Electrical and Electronic Engineering, which also houses the UK’s only Centre for Doctoral Training in Digital Health. The university has also forged strong ties with many companies in the digital health sector and has been granted funding for MSc research from Health Data Research UK. These factors mean students have ample opportunity to do meaningful work before they’ve even finished their degree.
Students can select between a Postgraduate Certificate (PGCert), a Postgraduate Diploma, and a Master of Science (MSc) in Digital Health at Bournemouth University. Again, theoretical frameworks and practical skills are provided with a focus on supporting and developing the products and services used in healthcare and social care settings. Students are taken through every step in the product cycle – Planning, design, development, and management of digital health solutions, always with real-world problems in mind.
The university concentrates on employment prospects from the beginning, giving students the professional abilities and advanced research skills needed to develop new solutions and improve existing products and processes. By the end of the course, students are expected to have developed the ability to continuously adapt to an industry that changes rapidly.
Bournemouth also emphasises work placements and volunteering, with students encouraged to consider international opportunities, if safe and feasible. The university works with the Erasmus mobility programme for study exchanges within Europe.
There are also opportunities to take on international work, summer programmes, and volunteer projects in other parts of the world. Though the workability of such projects depends greatly on the constantly changing circumstances surrounding the pandemic, they offer students an invaluable chance to improve their global employability.
The importance of digital health in the 21st century
One look at global affairs, and it’s clear that digital health is one of the most important industries of the 21st century. Undertaking a postgraduate course in digital health is a positive step that can offer benefits personally, locally, and globally. The programmes above each offer students from STEM and medical backgrounds the opportunity to expand their skills and make themselves valuable players.