Jonathan Knight, Co-Founder of Compassly, provides an overview of the challenges of clinical competencies, and how Compassly’s comprehensive app aims to help healthcare professionals seamlessly work across multiple organisations, and healthcare providers to develop and retain their staff.
The critical challenge of competencies
Clinical competencies are the specific skills needed every day in patient care. Each catheter inserted, IV fluid administered, peak flow reading taken – these are all clinical competencies. Every day, most healthcare professionals will use some form of competency, and most patients staying in hospital will require them. And when you picture them in use, when you imagine yourself as that patient, you realise how important they are for patient safety and experience – and in some cases they are even critical for the safety of staff (such as the administration of cytotoxic drugs in chemotherapy).
But almost everything about learning and revalidating these skills is managed on paper. Even when there’s a system for noting the skill, there will be a paper form sitting behind it. The scale of this paper is staggering – you could walk from London to Brighton alongside all the competency folders for the registered nurses in the UK alone.
They are also important for staff professional development, satisfaction and ultimately retention. Everybody wants to feel like they are developing in their role, learning new skills, and taking on new challenges. But with competencies handled on paper it takes a constant effort to make sure staff are not falling behind – even more so when you extrapolate the logistics of this across the whole hospital. And because these skills are taught and assessed vocationally in the clinical environment, any failures in assessments can be multiplied through future generations of learners too.
Compassly – a digital Competency Passport
Compassly is a solution designed to make assessing, managing, and revalidating competencies incredibly easy. It’s a mobile or web app where staff can have their competencies supervised and signed-off in real-time in the clinical environment – with absolutely no paper involved. Staff can join easily and have the right set of competencies setup in minutes, and all competency records are available digitally – to both the hospital and the clinician, in their own competency passport. This avoids repeated competency assessments and lets clinicians develop and build skills far more easily. Managers can get a live view of the skill mix of staff, with a full evidence trail maintained to assure leadership and regulators. Competencies can be easily revalidated, and staff can download digital certificates to support ongoing revalidation. All competency resources are instantly available, and updates to competencies can be published immediately, meaning everyone has access to the very latest standards.
The team behind Compassly have worked across multiple solutions in healthcare over the last decade, but the challenge of Competencies stood out as one of the biggest unmet needs – and one that could have the biggest impact on patients, staff and NHS providers. From the start we designed and refined Compassly working alongside clinicians at Kettering General Hospital NHS FT, to ensure it works brilliantly, exactly the way they needed it to.
The future – shared, best-practice competencies
Part of our mission with Compassly is to help practice development teams curate the best competencies out there, rather than try to create it all themselves. With Compassly, organisations can seamlessly share competencies – be that within an ICS or across the whole country – so hospitals can access the very best standards rather than try to come up with them themselves.
We’re thrilled to be working with the UK Oncology Nursing Society on our first national competency passport partnership. Next year, the UKONS SACT Competency Passport will be available to thousands of oncology nurses, across hundreds of healthcare providers, for assessing, developing and maintaining their chemotherapy competencies. See the UKONS announcement and further details of the collaboration for more information.
We see the future of practice development as an equal partnership between healthcare professionals, experts writing competency standards and the organisations providing healthcare. Compassly helps all three parties work effortlessly together.
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You might think with all these capabilities, that Compassly would be complicated for staff to use. But the team have worked closely with clinical users from the start to make sure that all this power is still incredibly simple to use through a mobile and web app. Users need little to no training, a huge help when rolling out to thousands of busy clinical users.
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Compassly is part of the sixth cohort of the DigitalHealth.London Accelerator programme.
The DigitalHealth.London Accelerator is a collaborative programme funded by two of London’s Academic Health Science Networks – UCL Partners and the Health Innovation Network, MedCity, CW+ and receives match funding from the European Regional Development Fund.