Go digital: digital change will empower AHPs

Digital change will empower AHPs – that’s the message from the 2018 CAHPO conference, says Euan McComiskie.

The theme of the fourth Chief Allied Health Professions Officers (CAHPO) conference in London on 20 June was important – the potential for digital technology to lead the way forward. Former NHS England chief executive Sir David Nicholson, now part-time chair of Worcestershire NHS Trust, told us that more people in Africa have access to a smartphone than to fresh drinking water. It’s a shocking statistic but one that should be seen as an example of the scope, scale – and opportunity – for digital innovation to drive global healthcare improvement.
Nearly 500 allied health professionals from all over England listened as NHS England CAHPO, Suzanne Rastrick, encouraged them to explore the notion of ‘The Future Now’, setting the theme in motion. Michael Folan, clinical informatics lead, NHS England, and a physiotherapist by background, focused on ‘Digital Futures: Empowering the clinician and the citizen’. There were also motivating sessions from Juliet Bauer, chief digital officer, NHS England, and Simon Stevens, chief executive of NHS England, among others.
AHPs were challenged to lead the drive in England to improve healthcare through technology. For that, read everywhere else in the UK because we are in place throughout the system. Sarah Judge, AHP lead at West Suffolk Hospital NHS Trust, highlighted how the change is taking place in some parts of the country and said that, in order to make sure the improvements are scaled up, we need to learn from each other. It was pointed out that England could learn from advances in Scotland (bit.ly/2txXTIB) and Wales which already have national networks to support AHPs to learn, practice and improve their digital leadership skills.
Northern Ireland is at the early stages of setting up a similar network and, via the AHP digital steering group, NHS England and the professional bodies are exploring options for England. 
As the CSP’s newly appointed health informatics lead, I will also be looking at how I can link up with all interested members and support those who are already engaged in driving service change through digital technology and data.  
  • Euan McComiskie is the CSP’s UK health informatics lead
More information email: mccomiskiee@csp.org.uk
Euan McComiskie CSP’s UK health informatics lead

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