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Scotland focuses on clinical informatics leadership

Scotland focuses on clinical informatics leadership within Allied Health

Date: 22 August 2018

Dr Lesley Holdsworth is the nursing, midwifery and allied health professionals representative within the Scottish Government and will be presenting at HiNZ 2018 in Wellington this November on the allied health contribution to digital health and care in Scotland.

She says that while nursing, midwifery and allied health professionals make up 77 per cent of the healthcare workforce, it is only in the past few years that their voice has really been heard around board tables and nationally to be able to influence the development of IT strategies.

Holdsworth, who is a physiotherapist by training, formed a digital NMAHP network with a colleague in 2013 after receiving several enquiries from clinicians who were interested in digital solutions. The first meeting had 16 attendees, but it very quickly grew and now has hundreds of members.

The network was supported by the government, and was put on a more formal footing in 2015 when Holdsworth took up her current position with the Scottish Government.

“What we do within our network is to provide central support and leadership around this whole agenda for the clinical professions,” she says.

Each health board across Scotland now has a digital lead for each of the NMAHPs: one nurse, one midwife and an allied health professional who work closely together and with their medical and technical colleagues.

The network meets quarterly to learn from each other and share experiences, but promotes interactivity of their members whenever they feel the need.

The network also holds an annual workshop to bring this group of clinical staff up to date on what’s happening centrally. The 2018 workshop focused on the new Digital Health and Care strategy, “getting them right up the middle of what this means for them and encouraging members to take a lead in making it work for their services,” Holdsworth explains.

In 2014, the network secured funding to commission the national education provider for Scotland to develop a digital leadership programme for NMAHP, which is now recruiting its 11th cohort.

Nearly 200 clinical staff have been through the master’s level programme “to equip them with the skills and knowledge to lead on this agenda in their local environment,” she says.

Around one third return to their locality to take on a leadership role around the digital agenda, while others take up national and professional body roles.

“We’re trying to create competence and capacity within our clinical workforce and some local momentum through that,” she says.

As the network has grown, its structure has evolved to include vice chairs with specific roles, and all the current office bearers have been through the leadership programme.

One of the group’s ongoing initiatives is the development of a national allied health dataset.

Holdsworth says the key thing about publishing a new dataset is ensuring there is a fully resourced implementation plan.

“In 2012 we published a data set, but where it fell down was the lack of national and local endorsement and support for implementation and getting it into practice.”

She says the team leading this work has worked on ensuring local providers have the right IT systems and practitioner understanding and buy-in to make the central returns, which for the first time will allow for national benchmarking.

Now, 65 per cent of the population is covered by the allied health data set and producing regular returns. The next phase is full national implementation, which is anticipated by the end of 2019.

Holdsworth was recently awarded the Scottish Digital Leader of the Year Award and also the UK Digital Team of the Year by the Digital Health Institute.

She says “these awards are really good because that tells me that people are noticing that NMAHP are visible in the digital space and actually starting to bite.”

The HiNZ Conference 2018 is being held on 21–23 November at Wellington’s TSB Arena.

To read more about the HiNZ Conference 2018 click here >>

eAlliedHealth 2018 is being held on 21 November at Wellington’s TSB Arena.

To read more about eAlliedHealth 2018 click here >>



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