“Use your digital skills to improve Health Outcomes!” Chris Dickson on involving nurses in the digital agenda

Faculty Fellow Chris Dickson is Senior Clinical Lead with NHS Digital, on the e-health steering committee for the Royal College of Nursing, and a paediatric nurse. Chris has been kind enough to take time out of his busy schedule to write about the importance of informatics in allowing nursing professionals, and all health and social care disciplines, to shape the future of digital health. This blog also includes views from Chris’s RCN colleagues Matt Butler and Claire Buchner.

My name is Chris – I’m a paediatric nurse having previously worked in several specialities including Emergency Care, Paediatric Intensive Care, and most recently Clinical Informatics.

Clinical informatics a clinical speciality, I hear you ask? Well it has taken some time…

  • Royal College of Physicians, established 1518
  • Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health, established 1928
  • Faculty of Accident and Emergency Medicine, established 1993
  • Faculty of Clinical Informatics, established 2017 and now has over 340 members

Let’s face it – the digital transformation is here and it’s not going away; it brings huge opportunities for health care and for improving health and care outcomes, and we need to use our skills to make the most of these opportunities.

As we can see from the Topol Review 2019, within 20 years:

“90% of all jobs in the NHS will require some element of digital skills. Staff will need to be able to navigate a data-rich healthcare environment. All staff will need digital and genomics literacy. This Review is about both the existing and the future workforce. We need to tackle differences in the digital literacy of the current workforce linked to age or place of work.”

Digital transformation, however, is a team effort and needs everyone involved in health and care delivery to actively take part in shaping the future. Joining the Faculty of Clinical Informatics helps to support this agenda.

I believe that informatics can be the invisible enabler to join up health and social care. Digital solutions will need to focus around the individual, supporting high quality clinical supervision, with input from a truly integrated team across multiple disciplines.

This also means that we need digital solutions to support any location, whether it’s a care home, high street, maternity community hub or even a hospital.

“The Faculty is developing professional standards for clinical informaticians to enable these cross-cutting improvements and need your help to ensure that these standards are appropriate for nurses and midwives.

Clinical informatics events will be provided by the Faculty and the establishment of special interest groups and the ability to network with colleagues, to discuss some of these thorny issues, especially around interoperability. Let’s work together to ensure that everyone receives the best user experience in the digital care space, irrespective of profession or member of the public.”

As a member of the e-health steering committee for the Royal College of Nursing, we maintain that the digital agenda is a responsibility of all nurses, not just those in specific informatics roles. Everyone should get involved by articulating what their local issues are, how health and care outcomes can be improved, and the digital requirements needed to support.

I believe that the Faculty presents a great opportunity to benefit all regulated professionals for health and care. As the Faculty develops, I can see the possibility of highlighting, supporting and encouraging membership from the wider nursing and midwifery professions and the chance to learn from each other. This is a huge opportunity for all nurses and midwives with obvious benefits.

I would therefore advise you to consider joining the Faculty of Clinical Informatics.

Here are some short perspectives from other nursing members….

Matt Butler – Chair of the RCN e-health steering committee

I joined the Faculty because:

  • I believe nursing needs a voice in informatics
  • For the networking opportunities
  • To be involved in the Faculty from the start, to influence the shape of it
  • To potentially have the voice of the Faculty behind some of our nursing initiatives
  • To see how the Faculty develops in future

Claire Buchner – Vice Chair RCN e-health steering committee

Having been a nurse who chose to complete a MSc in Health Informatics many years ago and then struggled to find a post that would utilise my knowledge, I welcomed the “birth” of the FCI as an organisation that could potentially give me support and direction for my career. Now, as Regional CCIO (Nursing) in NI, I find myself wanting to draw on the experience of others and share good practice and resources.

I was particularly drawn to the multi-professional nature of the FCI and hoped that by joining as a Founding Fellow I could shape the Faculty’s objectives and way of working. I feel strongly that nursing requires a consistent and effective voice “at the table”.

I’m particularly interested in the aspects of career development for nursing and midwifery and how the FCI can enable its members to become professional leaders in informatics and digital health.