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TechnologyFeb 21, 2023

HEE hopes new framework will enable NHS healthcare staff to realise their 'digital ambitions'

The Covid-19 pandemic triggered previously ‘unimaginable’ developments in the use of digital technologies in healthcare settings and the staff response has been ‘admirable’.

That is the message conveyed in a foreword to the AI and Digital Healthcare Technologies Capability Framework, which was published by Health Education England (HEE) today (21 February).

In a foreword to the framework, Adrian Brooke, HEE’s medical director of workforce alignment, said the implementation of digital technologies had happened at a ‘faster pace and scale than we ever imagined’. While the health and care workforce had adapted ‘admirably’ to the changes, further innovations were coming.

‘As we expect to see further developments in artificial intelligence (AI), robotics, and digital healthcare technologies, it is important that we understand the skills and capabilities the system would need to embed these into existing learning and training pathways.'

Professor Brooke noted: ‘These skills and capabilities should allow our health and care staff (and learners) to work safely and effectively with these technologies in a digitally transformed health and care system.’

Photo Credit: Ian A McMillan
Digital technologies can be especially useful for staff working in rural settings, HEE notes


Focus on physios

The framework builds on recommendations set out in the Topol Review in 2019. A University of Manchester team carried out an assessment of the help that health and care staff will need to develop their digital skills in order to meet the future needs of the healthcare service.

As well as reducing the administrative workload facing clinical staff, AI and digital technologies can improve diagnostic applications and outcomes for patients, HEE stated.

As we expect to see further developments in AI, robotics, and digital healthcare technologies, it is important that we understand the skills and capabilities the system would need to embed these into existing learning and training pathways [Adrian Brook, HEE]

The capability framework provides capabilities for a wide section of the workforce, including

  • physiotherapists
  • other allied health professionals
  • nurses and doctors
  • dentists, pharmacists
  • paramedics
  • bio-informaticians and data analysts/scientists

Framework will help staff realise their 'digital ambitions'

Hatim Abdulhussein, HEE national clinical lead for AI and digital medical workforce, said: ‘Skills and capability building is essential to support the digital transformation in the NHS, and it is imperative that health and care professionals have the appropriate capabilities to deliver safe, ethical and augmented patient care.’

Dr Abdulhussein added:This framework will be enabler for both individuals wanting to assess their individual needs and digital aspirations, and for those providing education to guide an appropriate educational approach and content.’

Professor Ang Davies, director of digital transformation in healthcare education at the University of Manchester, said: ‘Successfully embedding [the framework] into future undergraduate and workplace training will be critical to its adoption and utility as a learning needs tool.’

And Professor Brooke added:Capability to work with AI and digital healthcare technology is a key element of our ongoing reform of education and training, and to ensure we support the future and existing workforce to respond to health and care needs of our patients both now and in the future.’

Remote consultation and monitoring

Many physiotherapists working in rural communities have embraced new technological advances to reach patients. The framework notes: ‘Digital technologies offer the potential to provide remote consultation and monitoring of patients. This can be especially useful for rural settings and routine procedures.'

It adds: 'Remote monitoring can also free up resources and allow patients to remain in their own environments and/or live more independently whilst still receiving medical care and monitoring.’

To read the full report, click here.


Author: Ian A McMillan
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