HEE report highlights role of digital technologies in supporting health and care workforce

A new report published by Health Education England (HEE) entitled ‘Harnessing digital technologies for workforce development, education and training: an overview’ has revealed that digital technologies are to play a key role in supporting the NHS workforce deal with upcoming demands.

To meet demand, the report highlights that policy makers and leaders need to maximise digital technology in order to take a system-wide approach to workforce planning and supply, design and deliver personalised healthcare services, upskill the existing workforce, transform the delivery of education and training, and inform clinical decision-making.

The report expands on the Topol Review report published in 2019, and aims to explore “the themes of how digital is harnessed to develop a continuous learning environment, enable new ways of working, and ensure the NHS workforce is digitally ready.”

The paper highlights the ways in which the Directorate of Innovation, Digital and Transformation is working to reshape education, training and workforce design, and captures ambitions in five key areas: delivering workforce provision, education and training; implementing digital tools and practices to support the NHS in managing workforce transformation, planning and lifelong learning; mobilising evidence and knowledge; creating learning platforms, curricula and ecosystems; and evolution of culture and environment.

Key findings include a need to learn about health risks to specific populations, new medicines, technologies and interventions, with use of digital education and training recommended to support the workforce in “rapidly changing” times.

HEE is developing simulation education with programmes in place to improve access to technologies and evaluate the growing number of learning systems available. Simulation, along with immersive technology, artificial intelligence and haptic robot technologies, are said to “have the potential to replicate the clinical environment and interaction with patients, enabling more efficient up-skilling and rapid competence acquisition.”

Additionally, HEE has been working with partners to develop a procurement framework for continuing professional development training, which has led to the recent procurement of the blended learning critical care training. The report states that this has “yielded potential savings upwards of £24m for the system” and the mixture of online, digital and face-to-face learning “has been shown to improve the educational experience for students”.

Patrick Mitchell, Director of Innovation, Digital and Transformation, Health Education England stated: “This report highlights how HEE’s approach to using current and emerging innovative technologies in educating and training future and current health professionals and the development of strong digital capabilities will help to deliver quality and safe 21st century care.”

You can read the full report here.