NHS Digital has recommended the creation of a central learning and support platform to help build digital skills in the health service.
It says this could support the work of digital champions in assisting colleagues and the public in making more of the digital health tools.
The recommendation comes in a report, Digital champions for health: a blueprint for success, that NHS Digital has produced with Digital Unite, a provider of digital skills learning. It has also had input from Brent, Harrow and Waltham Forest CCGs, Blackpool Teaching Hospitals and the North East London NHS Foundation Trust.
It highlights the potential of digital champions in NHS organisations to overcome the problems caused by a lack of IT skills and says there is a clear appetite for a national network to provide consistent learning resources and peer support. This contrasts with the current lack of a standardised approach to digital champion projects.
In turn, this is contributing to a lack of confidence and skills among many patients, making them reluctant to use online tools to manage their health – for which there is a growing support within the health service.
These factors contribute to the recommendation for a central open source learning and support platform to support digital champions. It could provide a body of high quality training content, host resources to support self-service learning, host national and local health resources and personalise the learning journey for each digital champion.
It could also provide project management and measurement tools and an online forum for projects and digital champions to support each other.
The report states: “Investing in the development of a digital health champions platform would, as evidenced in this report, deliver greater impact at greater scale for more end citizens and various stakeholders – from clinicians and support workers to CCGs and the NHS overall.
“Current localised and dispersed health champion projects cannot offer the scale, effectiveness, efficiency, impact and sustainability that a strategically designed and shared digital health champions resource and model can.
“In straitened financial times and uncertain political times, collective responses to collective challenges present more compelling value-added commissioning and delivery models than ever.”
Nicola Gill, programme lead at NHS Digital, commented: “We are committed to ensuring everyone has the confidence, skills and means to access and use digital health services and tools, particularly the most excluded. When it comes to health it’s incredibly important that people are helped in a personal and empathetic way and we know that digital health champions make that difference.”
Image by Kiran Foster, CC BY 2.0 through flickr