Enhanced leadership skills and technological competence are necessary to provide digital solutions that enhance safe and effective person centred care, and influence the Digital Health and Care agenda at local and national levels.
The current NMAHP dHealth Network (previously called the eHealth Network) aims are:
- To increase the capacity and capability of NMAHP digital related workforce
- To encourage the better use of informatics in NMAHP service planning and delivery
- To raise awareness of and publicise the benefits of NMAHP eHealth related practice
- To use technology to help citizens manage their own health and wellbeing and particularly in community and homely settings
Prior to the inception of the NMAHP digital Network there was no coordinated approach to the development of ehealth/digital skills across nursing, midwifery or allied health professions in Scotland. This presented risk to individuals and organisations, and also limited the support available to those willing to take a leap in to the digital world, thereby limiting opportunities to maximise impact.
What did AHPs do?
Building on an initial vision from Eunice Muir and Lesley Holdsworth the NMAHP Digital Health and Care Network was established in 2013. Its purpose was to bring together a wide ranging membership, with key leads identified for each of the professions within all of the territorial and special health boards across Scotland.
The NMAHP eHealth Leadership Programme, sponsored by Scottish Government and led by NHS Education for Scotland, was also developed with the aim of supporting ambitious, experienced nurses, midwives, allied health professionals to influence eHealth/digital practice, and to demonstrate innovation and creativity in leading change for the benefit of patients. Completion of the course gives automatic membership to the Network.
In late 2015, a review of the Network’s supporting infrastructure was undertaken and an executive steering group was formed to help shape, drive and respond to the work of the network. At this time, a new chair was appointed supported by four vice chairs who focus their efforts on different aspects of the work plan.
How did they do it?
The NMAHP eHealth Leadership Programme is delivered via blended learning with:
- Resources posted on the Community of Practice,
- Two days of face to face workshops,
- Two virtual half days which utilise GotoMeeting and social media (twitter)
- A 6-month period of work-based consolidation with three sessions of virtual or telephone support and peer learning, and
- A final face to face day where participants share the impact of the programme
During the programme participants are required to identify and lead on a small project to help put their learning in to practice. To further maximise the impact of the programme and to spread success, course participants are also encouraged to share their work through specially developed communication channels such as ‘Snippets’ and on social media using the hashtag #eNMAHP and #dNMAHP.
The programme was evaluated in 2016 and positive feedback has been received from a wide range of course participants:
“Exposed me to a wider group of health care professionals with a shared interest in eHealth.
Provided opportunities to engage with eHealth stakeholders in Scottish Government and organisations leading on innovative technology, particularly around digital health.
Enabled me to gain deeper understanding in the importance of eHealth and its application.
Enabled me to become more confident in my own desire to ensure eHealth does flourish and become a normal everyday commodity in health care.
Increased my knowledge-base enabling me to take forward several initiatives within my own discipline in NHS Highland especially in the context of Remote & Rural Health Care – my passion!”
“Increased confidence to speak out when something is not working.
Increased confidence to share and discuss new ideas.
Willingness to challenge clinicians, colleagues and third party providers when expectations and opportunity are not aligned.
Improved techniques for being able to listen, negotiate and influence decisions – feeling confident that your voice counts.”
The 10th cohort of the programme is currently underway with over 165 participants taking part since inception of the course. Applications to the course have been opened up to welcome healthcare scientists and Technology Enabled Care (TEC) colleagues; other professional groups such as dentists are also keen to engage and/or replicate the approach.
Many examples of new specific digital roles have also emerged over the years and the leadership course has supported NMAHPs to trial and spread a number of digital projects with positive effect:
- Mary Duguid, an Occupational Therapist from NHS Grampian, made an impact on the experience of people who were being discharged following amputation by using iPads to support discharge planning.
- Laura Cameron, a Paediatric Physiotherapist from NHS Fife, implemented an appointment reminder system using eHealth practices to reduce missed appointment rates. The outcome was a reduction in missed appointment rates from 22% to 13% and improved patient satisfaction.
Many more examples of AHP led digital innovations can be found here.
Taking it forward
A recent survey has been undertaken to better understand progress and the needs of staff going forward. The results of this network survey will be reported in summer 2018 2018.
The four current aims will also be revised to ensure that they are directly aligned with the six key domains highlighted within the newly published Scottish Governments’ Digital Health and Care Strategy. Information about both of these pieces of work will be available through the new website and twitter handle @DigiCare4Scot in the near future. Conversations will also continue and be linked by the new hashtag #dNMAHP – replacing the previously use #eNMAHP.
The network and its members will continue to lead and participate in events designed to: showcase opportunities in digital, further enhance knowledge and skills in the area, and to support the spread of effective approaches, thereby minimising duplication and enhancing efficiency.
All nurses, midwives and allied health professionals with an interest in finding out more or joining the network are welcomed.
Enquiries should be made to firstname.lastname@example.org