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One log-in to a wealth of health resources

NHS Education for Scotland has been shortlisted for a UK technology award for its programme of digital transformation and development of digital resources. It includes a new platform which is enabling nurses and midwives to take control of their professional development using their smartphones and tablets.

Scotland’s healthcare trainer has been shortlisted for a UK technology award. NHS Education for Scotland (NES), which trains nursing staff north of the border, aims to make education digital by default.

Although still a work in progress, over time NES promises to move all education for NHS staff into a single portal offering tailored training with a single log-on and a personal record.

Picture credit: iStockphoto

‘Having grown up with mobile technology, newly qualified nurses are increasingly digital natives who expect a level of digital service in every aspect of their life, including professional development and training,’ says NES director of digital transformation Christopher Wroath.

‘Smartphone apps, social media communities, multimedia content and web-based resources have all become commonplace in the nursing profession.’

He cites developments such as @WeNurses, a Twitter-based network with more than 48,000 followers, which allows nurses to share experiences, learning, and advice via the social media platform.

Then there is NES’s own Vimeo channel, which has seen a surge in demand for filmed and animated training content, with 61,000 views in the past year.

NES also produces educational material for nurses that is available via the web or on smartphones.

In 2014, NES collaborated with the Scottish patient safety programme to develop a sepsis tool that can be downloaded as an app on clinicians’ smartphones. Not only does this provide an early warning score calculator to highlight patients at risk of deteriorating, it also provides a screening tool, a decision aid to help decide when to escalate a patient’s case, and access to information about care bundles.

Each of these is a brilliant innovation, says Mr Wroath, but each stands alone. NES’s ambition is to bring everything into one place accessible anywhere, on any device at any time, tailored to the individual user.

He says: ‘We know there is local variation in the ability of NHS boards and other health organisations to support access to web-based resources, with some providing sufficient bandwidth for staff to stream content and others having firewalls which make accessing resources difficult.’

The new platform, Turas (Gaelic for journey), aims to make it easy for nurses and other health professionals to access education and training. It is being built as a one-stop shop for career development, supporting nurses from the point of qualification onwards. The system will also be person-centred and tailored to each user, understanding their role, level of experience, areas of interest and specialty.

Mr Wroath gives an example of how Turas might work in a flu epidemic. A ward sister could log on to her own NES account to find a press release from NHS Health Scotland warning of a flu outbreak.

Tailored updates

A link would take the ward sister to an update on flu vaccinations for health professionals, with more tailored information. She would then cascade this down to ward staff. Meanwhile, a GP or community pharmacist would receive similarly tailored information.

Mr Wroath says: ‘Gone will be the days of reliance on the ward computer. Turas offers nurses, midwives and other health professionals in Scotland the opportunity to take control of their professional development using their smartphones and tablets, providing access to the full range of NES services.’

‘The need to remember lots of log-ins and systems for portfolio management, accessing learning resources and reading journal articles and health alerts, will be a problem no longer.’

The Health Tech and You champion award, co-founded by the Design Museum, AXA PPP Healthcare and 2020health, pits NES against other public sector providers. The winner will be announced on April 25. If NES wins, it will be a sure sign that nursing education will be on the technology map.

For more information go to www.nes.scot.nhs.uk

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