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New NHS report details state of digital technology in healthcare education

A new NHS report investigating the role of digital technology in healthcare education has found that, while for the most part it is beneficial, some refinements can be made.

The review specifically examined how digital technologies are being used in health and care training and the requisite skills needed by staff to teach both now and in the future.

They key findings from the report centre around how:

  • Digital technology boosts flexibility, accessibility and collaboration but can have adverse effects on engagement;
  • Simulating clinical activities with digital technology is helping learners but there are concerns about the possibility of dehumanising practice;
  • The right infrastructure needs to be in place to properly harness the power of digital technology.

During its development, the authors of the report drew upon the expertise of staff at higher education institutes and students via an online survey, case studies and focus groups.

Some of the recommendations in the report include:

  • Creating a digital education strategy so the status of technology in health and care education is ringfenced for the future;
  • Coming up with more ways to promote innovation and develop opportunities for peer-to-peer learning;
  • Ensuring digital literacy keeps up with the pace of innovation in the health sector;
  • Obtaining a better understanding of the gap between how good healthcare courses are now and how good they need to be;
  • Providing learners with a variety of technology options with ‘digital specialist’ roles supporting their application.

Director of innovation, digital and technology at NHS England, Patrick Mitchell, explained that the report offers a “rounded view” of what every facet of the health system can do to further advance upon the “great leaps already taken” with regards to digital technology.

Vice-chancellor at Oxford Brookes University, Professor Alistair Fitt, said: “This report is a mine of useful and relevant information which should be read by anybody who is interested in using digital resources in their education.”

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