Preparing the healthcare workforce to deliver the digital future

Earlier this month the internationally renowned expert Dr Eric Topol delivered his vision of a digital future for the NHS as the world leader in using innovative technology to benefit patients.

Dr Topol has set out the steps he believes are needed to prepare staff to deliver that future, which will see the NHS become the world leader in the revolutionary technologies that will allow the service to continue to provide the best care and treatment possible.

The Topol Review, led by the California based cardiologist, geneticist, and digital medicine expert Dr Eric Topol, is an independent review commissioned by the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care and produced by Health Education England (HEE).

The review outlines how education and training for staff now can deliver a better future for patients and the staff who care for them by implementing technologies such as genomics, digital medicine, artificial intelligence and robotics at a faster pace and on a greater scale than anywhere else in the world.

The review provides advice on how these technologies and developments will change clinical roles; how staff can be prepared for that change, and therefore the changes required in the education and training of staff.

It sets out how new technologies will be able to speed up processes like diagnostics, for example, providing patients with quicker, better treatment and freeing up additional clinical time to provide further care.

The recommendations aim to support the NHS Long Term Plan and inform the workforce implementation plan designed to improve the NHS over the next decade.

The greatest challenge is the culture shift in learning and innovation, with a willingness to embrace technology for system-wide improvement. An ambitious drive “towards the NHS becoming the world’s largest learning organisation” is the best way to respond to this challenge. Recognising that there will be a five-to-seven- year time lag to full adoption, there is now a window of opportunity in which to strengthen the infrastructure, upskill the workforce and catalyse the transformation.

We at DigitalHealth.London welcome Dr Topol’s report.

We’re already working to upskill health and care staff to lead digital innovation and pioneer its adoption within the workplace. Our NHS Digital Pioneer Fellowship programme is a critical pathway towards the successful implementation of digital solutions to make the NHS fit for the future.

Over the short space of a year the NHS Digital Pioneer Fellowship delivers long term thinking and long term impact. Crucially, the programme helps to fill the current gap in opportunities for continuing professional development in digital amongst healthcare staff and, as envisioned in the NHS Long Term Plan published January 2019, provides the essential foundation towards a more secure, skilled workforce providing better care in a more sustainable working environment.

You can find out all about the programme at the 2019 NHS Digital Pioneer Fellowship Showcase which takes place on Thursday 28 February 2019 in London.