Actions Across Australia Case Study – Workforce and Education

6. A workforce confidently using digital health technologies to deliver health and care.

Below is a summary of some of the actions government, clinical, technology, industry and advocacy organisations told the Australian Digital Health Agency are already underway to ensure the workforce is confidently using digital health technologies to deliver health and care.

Training the health workforce to confidently use digital technologies

Healthcare organisations are engaging and supporting frontline workers to increase their skills and facilitate the cultural change required to ensure the health workforce is able to confidently and efficiently use digital technologies and create new digitally enabled clinical pathways.

In an initiative with Heath Information Management Association of Australia and the Health Informatics Society of Australia (HSIA) the Australasian College of Health Informatics (ACHI) has established the Certified Health Informatician of Australasia (CHIA). The CHIA credential demonstrates that candidates meet the Health Informatics core competencies to perform effectively as a health informatics professional in a broad range of practice settings. The certification has been designed to address the lack of formal recognition for health informatics skills in the Australian health workforce.

NSW Health provides their workforce access to a statewide e-learning management system, My Health Learning, which includes over 100 modules and courses. My Health Learning provides easy access to learning and development courses and the ability to plan and log both formal and informal learning and professional development.  Workers are also able to undertake ICT internship, cadet and graduate placements within eHealth NSW, including an Aboriginal ICT Cadet Program where participants are engaged in a range of projects providing them with opportunities to develop their knowledge and skills in the use of digital health technologies. 

A new computer based system for managing online education courses and eLearning modules, Tasmanian Health Education Online (THEO) supports mandatory clinical and digital health education, with a number of My Health Record eLearning modules to be introduced by the end of 2018. The University of Tasmania will also offer clinical placement and support for the development of the current and future health care workforce.

ACT Health is developing a program to encourage the nursing workforce to become digital champions and through a number of eLearning packages to support staff to new ICT systems across the territory as well as digital technologies into clinical training as a core competency.

Queensland Health is continuing the rollout of wireless networks and Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) initiatives which are already improving the mobility of clinicians. These networks will be pivotal in the design of new facilities, including Wi-Fi for patients and staff. It is also providing financial support for health professionals to complete the CHIA program to build Queensland Health’s digital health workforce capacity and capability

WA Health has a strong focus on expanding the telehealth service to increase staff access, capability and capacity through education, support and professional development and networking and increased patient access to the continuum of care and expertise in the country areas. Specialties include Emergency Telehealth Service (24/7), Asthma and COPD, Diabetes, Antenatal, Mental Health, Oncology and Stroke services.

The Northern Territory Government enables healthcare workers to undertake medical education and training and prevocational medical training accreditation at the Medical Education and Training Centre. There will be support health services for prevocational recruitment to achieve a sustainable workforce in the Northern Territory. Victoria is utlilising the seven Workforce Networks across Victoria to engage workers from health and human services organisations in a range of workforce initiatives including eLearning portals and face to face education and training sessions.

NPS MedicineWise is a provider of quality online learning modules about medicines and medical tests. The modules are delivered via a user-friendly interface and contain the latest, evidence-based clinical information that has been researched, written and reviewed by experts and specialists. Dementia Australia operates an innovative educational program that uses virtual reality technology to enable participants to see the world through the eyes of a person with dementia. The EDIE program, which operates within a fee-for-service model in NSW and Victoria, provides healthcare workers and those caring for people living with dementia with an increased understanding of the experiences and needs of individuals with dementia. 

Digital technology is also reaching members of Exercise and Sports Science Australia. They will benefit from an ESSA project that looks at My Health Record and future digital requirements to help their clients across the health spectrum from preventative health through to chronic disease management. Similar to the ESSA the Allied Health Professions Australia and its members are working to improve digital health literacy among allied health practitioners, are working to engage with software vendors and participating in Agency programs to promote allied health involvement.

Current and future clinical leaders can also apply to be part of the CXIO Network, a specialized forum to help them share information – from innovations to emerging clinical issues and solutions – in order to deliver improved patient care. The CXIO Network is supported by HISA, ACHI in partnership with the Australian Digital Health Agency. 

ACHI sets standards for professional practice and education in Health Informatics, provides evidence-based guidance to jurisdictions, supports initiatives, facilitates inter-disciplinary collaboration and mentors the community, and has developed a Health IT Scientific Program for HISA. 

To affirm the role of nurses in digital healthcare the Australian College of Nursing has produced a joint position paper with HISA with key actions including urging nurses and midwives to lead in decision-making as well as to partner, to obtain the knowledge and experience to act as knowledge brokers and to transform services and empower patients in self-care.

In May 2018, the Health Information Workforce Census was conducted. The aim of the census project is to quantify and qualify the Australian Health information Workforce (HIW), specifically to delineate and count the workforce, consider the future configuration of workforce, identify health information workforce shortfalls, and identify current health information training and career pathways. The Census project is a collaborative project between the University of Tasmania, University of Melbourne, Australian Digital Health Agency, Australian Library and Information Association, Health Libraries Australia, Australasian College of Health Informatics, Health Informatics Society of Australia, Health Information Management Association of Australia, and the Victorian Government Department of Health and Human Services. The next census will be in May 2020 and every 3 years thereafter.

Read more - National Digital Health Strategy Activities