Equipping nursing staff for the brave new digital health world

 Sian Kiely 27 Nov 2018

This week marks Scotland’s Digital Health and Social Care week – highlighting the digital health and social care landscape. Digital technology is already transforming the way nursing care is delivered. It's vitally important that all nursing staff are equipped to lead this change, writes Sian Kiely.

Earlier this year the RCN led a UK-wide consultation on the future of digital nursing. We wanted to gauge whether nurses had a shared vision of a digitally-enabled health and social care service that creates improved outcomes for patients, better experiences for staff and more efficient ways of working.

Respondents to our survey were positive about the possibilities that digital technology offered to the care they give to patients. They highlighted what would be required to make this a reality. They were clear that nursing needs to be a key stakeholder in the design and implementation of digital health systems. Nursing leaders who can bridge the gap between IT professionals and clinical staff are key. System facilitators have a vital role to play in supporting ongoing user engagement.

They also highlighted what barriers they see preventing the development of digital health and social care services. For example, there can be a mismatch in cultures between clinical staff and those responsible for commissioning systems. At a local level, respondents identified outmoded or poorly designed IT systems and software, poor internet connectivity and a lack of system support. At a national level, it was evident that there wasn’t interoperability, and that more can be done to improve shared common languages and access to information to support decision making.
Respondents were also clear that digital skills are not sufficient to address all the barriers identified.

In the coming year and beyond, the RCN will be focusing on developing online resources to help nurses and health care support workers to develop digital skills and to promote digital roles in nursing. All of our online learning will be made available via our Learning Management System.

RCN Digital Ready has also highlighted the positive impact for patients when nurses are supported to take leadership roles in health improvements centred on data, information, knowledge and technology, for example, through the NMAHP Digital Health and Care Leadership Programme in Scotland led by NHS Education for Scotland.

Applications are now open for the next cohort of this programme, which supports experienced nurses, midwives, allied health professionals, TEC leads and healthcare scientists to influence eHealth and demonstrate innovation and creativity in leading change for the benefit of patients - find out more

Look out for the Scottish Digital NMAHP Network sharing local activity this week on Twitter #dNMAHP.

To stay in touch join the RCN eHealth Forum and join the RCN eHealth Forum Facebook group to get involved in discussions on the issues that affect you and your field of practice.

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Sian Kiely

Knowledge & information Manager, RCN Scotland

Page last updated - 12/12/2018