Digital Academy

If we need digital transformation throughout the health and social care system, could a co-created national network be the answer? This blog considers the latest thinking on digital health and why the digital academy network will support the change process. 

Carol Read RN/MSc

The challenge for the NHS is to adopt digital technology at pace to transform the patient experience and ensure citizens can be supported safely in hospital or in their community.  A recent report from the Department of Health and Social Care 2018 - The future of healthcare outlined the vision which focussed on four key principles -

  1. Infrastructure.
  2. Digital Services.
  3. Innovation.
  4. Skills and culture.

This first blog will consider the 4th principle - skills and culture, to outline why the NHS Digtal Academy network was developed and how this will spread good practice throughout the healthcare system. 

Several key reports highlight the need for a nhs digital network to ensure that good practice is developed and spread throughout the NHS. 

The Watcher report (2016) mentions networks in several recommendatons -

  • Digital learning networks, both regional and local will support implementation and improvement.
  • Strengthen and grow the Chief Clinical Information Officer CCIO field, others trained in clinical care, informatics and health IT professionals. 

Further the Topol Review Interim report (2018) is reviewing how the healthcare workforce can deliver the digital future.  One of the ways highlighted is the NHS Digital Academy, a virtual organisation with a brief to develop a new generation of excellent digital leaders.  It will train 400 Digital leaders within the next three years.  The first cohort of digital leaders will cover six modules within the programme of learning and development which takes a year and includes several residentials where the new network meet in London, Salford and Durham. There is a real advantage in bringing the network together - shared learning and debate takes place to understand how digital transformation can be spread throughout the NHS.  

The next blog in the series will highlight how the members of the network have co-created the content of the NHS digital academy in partnership with the University of Edinburgh, Imperial College and Harvard Medical School.  The programme is now at the six month stage and members of the network are developing a work based project showcasing an element of digital transformation within their organisation.   This work will compliment the blueprints and case studies developed by Global Digital Exemplars, Scan4safety demonstrator and test bed sites to assist other organisations adopting new technologies.