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UK’s first digital health training programme open to all NHS frontline staff 

The UK’s first Digital Health Academy, aiming to help build a digital-ready frontline workforce, is now open to all health and care staff across the UK.

A survey from the Organisation for the Review of Care and Health Apps (ORCHA), reveals that whilst 65% of the public are open to trying digital health technologies, only a fraction of tools are recommended by health or care professionals. In total, amongst those using digital health, only a small proportion of recommendations came from healthcare professionals, with 17% of recommendations coming from GPs, 8% from hospital doctors, and 2% from nurses.*

The need to support a digitally ready workforce has been highlighted by the NHSX Readiness Plan and responds to the critical requirement to invest in developing front-line skills for digital health through professional development.

Currently, there is still no mandatory digital health training for health and care professionals, and the courses that frontline workers can attend are often scarcely available. In response to this need, ORCHA, with the support of universities and healthcare professionals, and with financial support from Boehringer Ingelheim, developed the Digital Health Academy, the foundation level modules of which will be freely available at orcha-academy.com and on the Health Education England NHS Learning Hub.

The academy’s online training modules are designed specifically for frontline health and care professionals who want to use and recommend digital health tools but have been struggling to access the knowledge to do so safely.

The CPD-accredited Digital Health Academy programme includes:

  • Short, bite-sized learning modules, to suit busy schedules, which can be accessed at any time.
  • Two foundation modules which explain the function of health apps, the current digital health landscape, the barriers to using and adopting digital health and the importance of prescribing good quality digital health products.
  • And coming soon will be a series of specialist modules including topics such as digital health for mental health, diabetes, physiotherapy, long-Covid and winter pressures.

The team are anticipating training up to 50,000 healthcare staff in year one of the project, with all 630,000 NHS health and care professionals having the opportunity to improve their skills by 2031.

Commenting on the academy’s resources, Dr Neil Ralph, Head of Health Education England Technology Enhanced Learning, said: “COVID-19 accelerated the rapid adoption of digital health across health and care services and the need to embed digital health in the long term. We are delighted that ORCHA has contributed its Digital Health Academy foundation content to the Learning Hub and look forward to hosting new content in the future, further supporting health and care professionals in their roles.”

Uday Bose, Managing Director at Boehringer Ingelheim UK & Ireland, said: “There’s widespread recognition of the need for digital health training for frontline workers, with organisations from the King’s Fund to the Royal College of General Practitioners calling for it. With six million people now waiting for elective care, and with first-class digital tools available which could support healthcare workers with many of the high volume and low complexity cases, the need to improve digital skills and digital confidence in the NHS has become critical. We felt the academy was a perfect way to address this very real need amongst frontline staff.”

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Emma Cooper
Emma Cooper
Emma is Digital Editor at Pf.

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