Digital health includes the general use of information and communication technologies for health and care as well as advanced technologies for managing data and information such as artificial intelligence. Digital health is a critical part of any modern health and social care system and its adoption is key to improving patient care outcomes, improving clinical efficacy, and increasing sustainability. The evolution of technology in health and care also requires a workforce who understand and realise the significance of socio-technical dimensions in digital health implementations. The pressing need for recognised digital heath training and education is supported by Digital Health and Care Northern Ireland (DHCNI).
As part of the developing Digital Health and Care Strategy for NI the priority to support a ‘workforce confidently using digital health technologies to deliver health and care’ is highlighted.
DHCNI has committed to collaborating with care providers and partners in workforce education so that all health and social care professionals have access to resources that will support them in the confident and efficient use of digital health. In addition, the strategy will propose rapid promotion of a network of HSC digital leaders and champions across Northern Ireland.
Work on development of a HSC Digital Capability framework commenced in 2020. It will be created to:
The framework will outline the capabilities required to support individuals and organisations in extending their digital health development rather than providing a rigid set of competencies. It is intended to enable and inform and not to be adopted as a professional standard, but should be used as a resource to guide individuals, employers, and educators in their workforce and professional development planning and delivery. Most importantly, the framework intends to promote and encourage positive attitudes in relation to the increasing introduction and adoption of technology and innovation. Effort has been made to ensure that all professional groupings working within HSC can use the framework to assess their own capability across a range of digital health specific domains, and for employers to understand the digital health capability they should be supporting within their workforce.
In developing this resource, we foresaw the following intended uses. The framework:
In addition DHCNI are working with the Federation for Informatics Professions (FEDIP) to develop a framework for developing skills and career pathways for informatics professionals.
DHCNI are working in partnership with the Business Services Organisation (BSO) to launch a programme of work to scope and make recommendation to service regarding IT and informatics capacity within HSC. This work will involve a work force review, development of career pathways and recommend strategy for retention and recruitment of IT and informatics staff in health and social care. It is proposed that this work will commence in Autumn 2021.