When talking about Telemedicine and eHealth, we often – well, at least in my organization, Region of Southern Denmark – mention digital skills in the same sentence. The two have become inseparable and I am, not the only one who thinks this as I recently read the headline “Digitization without it-skills are dreams without chances”. The quote was stated by advisers at the Danish Academy of Technical Sciences and underlines that you cannot have the first-mentioned without the latter.
With this in mind, how can we further the use of information and communications technology in Health Care? And where do we start? These are essentially the challenges we deal with in the DELIVER project (short for Digital EducationaL programme invoIVing hEalth pRofessionals) in collaboration with three European partners: Universita Udine of Italy, TICSalut Catalonia of Spain and Angela Boškin Faculty of Health Care, Slovenia.
Our vision is to advance the digital skills of HCPs (Health Care professionals) so they can provide high quality care for our citizens and patients because HCPs are the core of digital transformation in Health Care. In other words, we seek to motivate our HCPs and their leaders to become digitally competent and confident.
A bit of history on Telemedicine and digital skills
Clinicians and ICT specialists in Denmark began to sample Telemedicine some 25 years ago based on them facing practical issues with accommodating our northern territories in the Faroe Islands and Greenland with radiologist services. The challenge was that no radiologists were available here. The solution was to send the X-ray images to Denmark for assessment, thus calling upon a remote diagnosis by means of telecommunications technology, hence Telemedicine.
Denmark ranks among the top countries when it comes to digitization according to the UN. Our digital infrastructure connecting the sectors in Health Care is no less than excellent. Our internet speed is superefficient due to our government advocating availability to all citizens, also in rural areas. We have several government-sanctioned apps to choose from in helping us to master our health – both in pre-hab, rehab and care. Overall, health information in Denmark is, subject to the data protection rules of course, flowing freely, and is available to everyone at the tip of their fingers everywhere, anytime. So, you might ask – what is the problem?
Ironically, it seems we have been so busy developing the digital infrastructure that we neglected something just as important: Namely, systematically, to develop the digital skills of our personnel working in health care (not to mention the public at large) under the presumption, digital literacy is a given and happens automatically. In this perspective, Denmark still has a lot of work to do in the field of upskilling our HCPs and Health Care managers, wherefore DELIVER is of relevance – whether in Denmark or Slovenia.
DELIVER Project findings
DELIVER conducted a survey to find out the actual digital competencies of HCPs as well as what is the mind-set, values and attitudes related to digitization. Findings were obtained through a quantitative survey and qualitative interviews with the below-listed categories. You can find the full insights from the analyses and reports here https://project-deliver.eu/deliverables
- Assessment of level of digital competencies of HCPs and health care managers
- Digital solutions most frequently used and considered most important
- Perceptions on digital solutions and digitization
- Existing framework and practices of introduction and training of digital competencies - including existing ICT support structure
- Potential areas for improvement of digital competencies among HCPs and HCMs
- Decisive elements for implementation of digital solutions
- Along with Angela Boškin Faculty of Health Care, our findings showed two significant discoveries.
Firstly, the needs turned out to be almost identical across the countries in the survey where close to 500 healthcare professionals and managers took part.
Secondly, the needs phrased by the interviewees were better training and the ability to practice by themselves and a focus on mind-set – to be understood as motivation to work with and implement digitization.
What will be DELIVERed?
The upcoming DELIVER educational concept will be concentrating on the big WHY in terms of why do we have to digitize? The concept contains a series of themes directed at teaching HCPs and managers with a goal to cultivate their digital literacy in order to prepare for the Digital Transformation. In addition, the concept offer tools, guides, dilemma cases, definitions, etc. to be selected and put together in tailored programs according to the educator’s preference. We refer to the concept as “upcycling of known and tested teachings and methods” which we have assembled into a sort of “greatest hits”. We sincerely hope that this concept will contribute to the further use of information and communications technology in Health Care.
DELIVER is an ERASMUS+ project in the category Strategic Partnerships for adult education. DELIVER target groups are multidisciplinary healthcare professionals and health care managers working in the hospital and community care sectors. DELIVER is currently two years into its project period of three years. Launch for the educational concept is set in September 2023.
We look forward to make your DELIVERy.