Training and development opportunities are crucial to upskill the eHealth workforce, as Dr Lisa McCann from the University of Surrey points out
We find ourselves now in a world dominated by technology barely considered imaginable previously in our everyday lives – from the simple smart phone to the more complex self-driving car; technology is here to stay. It is here to stay within healthcare too. We are already witnessing the development of numerous interventions and innovations.
Electronic patient records, wearable technologies, sensors, health-related and behaviour change apps with embedded gamification, real time remote monitoring; the list is endless and the opportunities boundless. We are increasingly surrounded by and immersed in the Internet of Things, and the creativity and innovations by which the paradigm is defined. Embracing these creative and innovative opportunities provides a positive, exciting, potentially revolutionary and dynamic landscape on which to develop and deliver health systems and health services fit for the future – and fit for all.
eHealth training pivotal to the future of care
eHealth should not be viewed as an exclusive club with membership restricted to those currently working in the arena, technologically savvy individuals, or those health services which are a step or two ahead of the rest. eHealth, mHealth, Connected Health, whatever the preferred term, is for all to embrace.
From those working clinically and at the ‘front line’ with patients and their families, to those with roles and responsibilities that lie more with operational decisions within healthcare organisations, eHealth is pivotal in shaping the future direction of healthcare. The very concept may challenge some people more than others, but ultimately the concern of those working in healthcare, in whatever guise, is to facilitate and provide the best possible healthcare experiences to all patients.
In that vein, eHealth technologies do not, or should not, discriminate between healthcare professionals or patients in terms of experience, exposure or age. With the right approach to co-design, development and robust evaluation, eHealth technologies can be (and are) accessible to all. Personal experience indicates that working within cultures and healthcare settings in which technology is yet to be fully embraced as well as with patient groups many, remarkably, still consider incompatible with technology (older people, for example), is indeed possible. But more importantly, it is necessary; a status quo in terms of healthcare services organisation, provision and delivery is unsustainable.
So how do we ensure healthcare services are fit for the future? We think outside the box. We work collaboratively. We learn from others. We think creatively and innovatively. We ensure training and development opportunities are in place to upskill the workforce to embrace and respond to evolving healthcare services.
And we remain committed; change may not happen overnight – we may not see immediate cost-saving benefits from the introduction of eHealth technologies within a healthcare setting – but we do see a robust and substantive evidence base gathering momentum to support their introduction and implementation. I for one – and I am sure I am not alone – am excited to learn about, be part of, and embrace the ways in which our health services of the future will evolve and develop.
Dr Lisa McCann
Lead for eHeath
University of Surrey