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NHS frontline staff get free digital health training

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Healthcare professionals in the UK can from today freely tap into the Digital Health Academy’s online training programme to be able to confidently use digital health technologies.

The CPD-accredited course – the first of its kind in the UK – aims to build a digital-ready front-line healthcare workforce, as highlighted in the government’s current NHSX Readiness Plan.

Developed by the Organisation for the Review of Care and Health Apps (ORCHA) in partnership with NHS clinicians and universities, the Digital Health Academy hopes to engage over 50,000 NHS and social care staff from the UK in its first year, and all 630,000 NHS health and care professionals by 2031.

Sponsored by Boehringer Ingelheim, the course is available for free via the Health Education England NHS Learning Hub.

A recent ORCHA survey shows that though 65 percent of the public would try digital health technologies, only a fraction of tools are recommended by health or care professionals, with 17 percent of recommendations coming from GPs, eight percent from hospital doctors and just two percent from nurses.

Surprisingly, there is no mandatory digital health training for health and care professionals in the UK; and courses that frontline workers can attend are often rarely available.

The newly-launched 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

Uday Bose, Managing Director at Boehringer Ingelheim UK & Ireland, acknowledged the need for digital health training for frontline workers. Reputable organisations such as the King’s Fund and the Royal College of General Practitioners are also advocates.

He added: “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.”

Meanwhile, Dr Michelle Webster, Chief Clinical Information Officer & Consultant Clinical Psychologist at Coventry and Warwickshire NHS Partnership Trust, welcomed the ORCHA Digital Health Academy as having helped to demystify digital health, strengthen 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”.

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