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BACKGROUND: Involving patients and carers in medical students' learning aims to centralise the perspective of healthcare users and supports our future medical workforce in the development of key skills. Medical schools are increasingly using digital technology for teaching and it is timely to understand how to maintain patient and carer involvement in this context. METHODS: Ovid MEDLINE, Ovid EMBASE and medRxiv were searched in October 2020 and reference lists of key articles were hand searched. Eligible studies reported authentic patient or carer involvement in undergraduate medical education where technology was also used. Study quality was assessed by the Mixed Methods Appraisal Tool (MMAT). Levels of patient or carer involvement were assessed using Towle et al.'s (2010) taxonomy, from Level 1 (lowest level) to Level 6 (highest level). RESULTS: Twenty studies were included in this systematic review. In 70% of studies, patients and carers featured in video or web-based case scenarios with no interaction between healthcare users and students. The remaining 30% of studies reported real-time interactions between students and patients via remote clinical encounters. Digital teaching sessions involving patients or carers were perceived to be valuable by students and educators, and increased student engagement, patient-centred attitudes, clinical knowledge, and communication skills. No studies reported the perspective of patients or carers. DISCUSSION: Digital technology has not yet driven higher levels of patient and carer involvement in medical training. "Live" interactions between students and patients are becoming more common but challenges need addressing to ensure positive experiences for all involved. Future teaching should enhance the role of patients and carers in medical education and support them to overcome any potential barriers to doing so remotely.

Original publication




Journal article


BMC Med Educ

Publication Date





Digital healthcare, Medical education, Patient and public involvement, Remote learning, Humans, Caregivers, Education, Medical, Undergraduate, Health Personnel, Learning, Students, Medical