The CSP has welcomed HEE's focus on digital training but believes current investment could be better directed elsewhere.
On 26 October, the NHS AI Lab and Health Education England (HEE) called for all health and care staff in England to be trained in artificial intelligence (AI). This is part of the wider Digital, AI and Robotics Technologies in Education (Dart-Ed) program.
Whilst the CSP welcome the focus on the digital skills, and do not doubt that AI technology can support delivery of improved healthcare, we do not feel that the current investment should be focussed on AI training for the workforce.
In a 2021 survey of AHPs in the UK, including 300 responses from members of the physiotherapy profession, it was clear that work was needed to improve the basic digital skills of the workforce. This survey was based on the UK AHP Digital Competence Framework published in 2021 by HEE. Headline findings from this study include:
- Across the 10 domains of the framework, an average of just 36 per cent of members of the physiotherapy profession responded that their competence level was good or very good.
- Only 24 per cent of people felt that the systems in their organization did all that they wanted them to do
- 60 per cent felt that their clinical processes/procedures were limited by the capability of their organisation’s systems.
The physiotherapy profession requires urgent investment in the basic digital training of staff and in the provision of improved technology infrastructure to support the future rollout of AI. The CSP feels that these should be the focus of central organisations.
The CSP itself is developing an ambitious Physiotherapy Health Informatics Strategy (PHIS) and amongst its aims are to “provide a platform to engage, educate and enable members of the physiotherapy profession in embracing and implementing informatics”.
Euan McComiskie, CSP health informatics lead, said: 'The focus should be on improving basic digital and informatics skills across physiotherapy and in the wider health and social care workforce.
'Without a strong foundation skillset, there is nothing to anchor the more specialist skills needed to implement AI.
'The most amount of money in digital health and social care should be spent on the simplest technology. It may be that at some point the physiotherapy workforce needs training in AI but not before basic digital competence'.
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