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

The Digital Health Academy, with support from Health Education England, brings a massive boost of digital health skills.

  • All NHS and Social Care staff to have free access
  • Available on Health Education England NHS Learning Hub
  • Sponsorship of Foundation level from Boehringer Ingelheim has enabled free access for all
  • Up to 50,000 health and care staff anticipated to be trained in the first year
  • To gain CPD points in a vital new area of professional development

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 (learninghub.nhs.uk) at learninghub.nhs.uk/Catalogue/ORCHA.

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

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.”

Learning about the value the Academy offers frontline staff, Boehringer Ingelheim committed to sponsor the foundation modules. This has enabled it to be opened up at no cost to health and care professionals. Commenting on this, 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.”

Ahead of the launch, the academy has been introduced to professionals using the ORCHA digital health libraries and the reaction has been extremely positive:

Dr Michelle Webster, Chief Clinical Information Officer & Consultant Clinical Psychologist at Coventry and Warwickshire NHS Partnership Trust, said:

“The ORCHA Digital Health Academy has helped to demystify digital health, strengthen our clinicians’ digital skills and boost their confidence in using healthcare apps. The bite-sized modules are easy to follow, interesting and relevant and designed to flexibly fit around their busy jobs. I would highly recommend”.

Najia Qureshi, Director of Education and Professional Practice, British Dietetic Association, said:

“This is a really welcome resource for our members, who work across the NHS supporting patients with a wide range of health conditions. Innovation in healthcare is introducing new ways of working and is transforming patient care. This programme will help dietitians and other health and care professionals to develop the professional skills needed to confidently use and recommend the right digital health products – helping patients to benefit from digital healthcare”

Reviewing a foundation module course, Dr Joel Brown said:

“It takes quite a paradigm shift to move physicians away from seeing prescribing as an exclusively pharmaceutical enterprise. As medicine is increasingly digitised, clinicians need to take seriously the opportunity to prescribe digital health. The course by ORCHA, as part of their Digital Health Academy, makes this point brilliantly.”

ORCHA has created the infrastructure of the online training portal and designed courses, drawing on experience gained reviewing more than 17,000 health apps and operating health app libraries in 70% of NHS regions.

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.

 

The Digital Health Academy foundational level has been made available through sponsorship support from Boehringer Ingelheim UK and Ireland.

 

*Digital Health in the UK: National Attitudes and Behavioural Research – ORCHA, July 2021 https://orchahealth.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/07/2107_ICS_Research_Report_2021_National_final.pdf

**Kings Fund: Digital healthcare – our position:

“Digital technologies are integral to many of the changes envisaged in the NHS long-term plan. Making a reality of these ambitions will require a stronger emphasis on engaging and upskilling the people who are expected to use digital technologies at all levels in the NHS, particularly clinicians.”

https://www.kingsfund.org.uk/projects/positions/digital-health-care

**Royal College of General Practitioners, The future role of remote consultations & patient ‘triage’ in General practice COVID-19 recovery: https://www.rcgp.org.uk/policy/general-practice-covid-19-recovery-consultations-patient-triage.aspx

 

About Health Education England

Our purpose as part of the NHS, is to work with partners to plan, recruit, educate and train the health workforce. Health Education England exists for one reason and one reason only: our vision is to help improve the quality of life and health and care services for the people of England by ensuring the workforce of today and tomorrow has the right skills, values and behaviours, in the right numbers, at the right time and in the right place. We are people centred, committed to the NHS Constitution, and driven by our values of responsibility, inclusiveness, fairness, and confidence.

Our goals are to deliver and reform education to produce the best possible future workforce; to transform the current workforce to meet tomorrow’s health and care needs; and ensure the quality of our education and training system.

 

About Boehringer Ingelheim

BOEHRINGER INGELHEIM IN THE UK

We are Boehringer Ingelheim – a different kind of pharmaceutical company.

Family-owned. Purpose-led. Innovation-driven: We serve mankind by improving health for people and animals.

Making new and better medicines for humans and animals is at the heart of what we do. Our mission is to create breakthrough therapies that change lives. Established in 1885, we have always been independent and family-owned, meaning we have the freedom to pursue our purpose – identifying health challenges of the future, and targeting areas of need where we can do the most good.

By working collaboratively, we accelerate the delivery of medical breakthroughs to transform the lives of patients now, and for generations to come.

In the UK we do this through scientific innovation – taking on the biggest challenges in medicine. We invest in sustainable healthcare – planning for the long term alongside the NHS and our partners in the veterinary world. We support digital transformation by partnering with innovators to drive healthcare improvements.

More information can be found at www.boehringer-ingelheim.co.uk

 

About ORCHA

The Organisation for the Review of Care and Health Apps (ORCHA) is the world’s leading, independent digital health evaluation and distribution organisation. It helps health and care organisations to deliver the right digital health apps, to the right people, at the right time. Its unique insight, assessment, and implementation services are improving the health of the population, the health of our health systems and the health of the health app ecosystem. ORCHA conducts reviews for government organisations across Europe, the Middle East, and Australasia. In the UK, ORCHA conducts reviews for NHS Digital and NHS providers in 70% of regions. NHS England is accelerating adoption across the NHS, placing ORCHA in its National Innovation Accelerator Programme. orchahealth.com

About ORCHA

Founded by NHS clinicians, ORCHA is the world’s leading digital health evaluation and distribution organisation. We provide services to national health bodies across three continents, including the NHS in 50% of UK regions, delivering national accreditation frameworks, bespoke Digital Health Libraries, and professional recommendation tools, specific to the needs of our clients. ORCHA’s unique Review Engine assesses digital health solutions against more than 350 measures across Clinical/Professional Assurance, Data & Privacy, and Usability & Accessibility, plus additional criteria depending on needs.

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