The efficacy of e-learning for healthcare professionals is well known. Several studies found that e-learning, when appropriately designed and evidence‐based, can enhance knowledge and modify behaviours equal to or greater than residential learning [1, 2, 3].
The COVID-19 pandemic is an unprecedented and disrupting time for medical education as it requires intense and prompt attention in response to the global emergency, in terms of finding solutions to deal with social distancing and shortage of time or adequately updated and homogeneously shared information to be applied on the field. In these circumstances, e-learning offers an important tool to improve the quality of assistance and the activities of prevention.
A previous experience showing the potentials of e-learning during pandemics is represented by the TELL ME (Transparent communication in Epidemics: Learning Lessons from experience, delivering effective Messages, providing Evidence) project funded by the European Union Seventh Framework Programme, aimed at designing models for improved risk communication during infectious disease crises, which developed two online learning course focused the first on communicating with patients and counteracting the risk of stigmatization during epidemics and the second on addressing the Ebola health crisis .
During the COVID-19 pandemic, several sovranational or national institutions, e.g. the World Health Organization (WHO), the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC), the Italian National Institute of Health (ISS) relied on e-learning to train healthcare workers [5, 6, 7]. In particular, the WHO made available on the OpenWHO platform multilingual courses on different topics of interest periodically updated . Also the ISS offered to Italian healthcare workers on the platform EDUISS training activities and events according to a continuous and permanent training schedule .
In this context it has to considered the experience of FadInMed (https://www.fadinmed.it) which is an e-learning platform for physicians, dentists and nurses managed by the Italian National Federation of the Associations of Doctors, Surgeons and Dentists (FNOMCeO) and the National Federation of Orders for Nursing Professions .
More specifically, FadInMed has trained more than 450,000 healthcare professionals over ten years providing evidence-based materials and rolling updates. Furthermore, during the COVID-19 health emergency, this platform offered the first continuously updated e-learning course titled ‘COVID-19, the disease caused by the new coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2)’ targeted to all Italian physicians and pharmacists. This course was made promptly available by the FNOMCeO and the Federation of Orders of Italian Pharmacists (FOFI) immediately after the confirmation of the first cases of local transmission in Italy. It was free of charge for all FNOMCeO and FOFI affiliates and soon became the flagship of the FadInMed Programme .
During the COVID-19 pandemic, additional courses were made available on the platform and successfully contributed to satisfying healthcare professionals’ emerging learning needs by providing timely and trustworthy scientific information in a constantly evolving scenario and counteracting the misleading ‘infodemic’. Here, we report on the development of this COVID-19 educational project and its results over a period of approximately nine months until the end of 2020.