Digital technology is playing an increasingly important role in ensuring an efficient healthcare system that delivers an improved quality of patient care. However, the path to digital transformation in healthcare is being obstructed by a series of challenges, with the Great Digital Workforce Challenge being a key obstacle.

In his blog, ‘The Great Digital Healthcare Workforce Challenge,’ Martyn Perry, Associate Director of Digital Transformation at Midlands Partnership NHS Foundation Trust, explores the five key challenges to overcome during the workforce challenge:

Considerations in The Great Digital Workforce Challenge

1. Capacity and demand

The Covid-19 pandemic had a dramatic impact on the requirement and demand for digital transformation. Digital systems were implemented and adopted overnight, with suddenly everything needing to be actioned digitally. This overnight digital transformation had a profound impact on healthcare staff and the demand for digital teams skyrocketed.

The NHS is now in desperate need of staff that understand digital in a health and social care setting to ensure that all processes, services, and environments run effectively. It’s a unique set of skills and any individual with that skillset would need to be able to tackle the digitisation challenges at a frantic pace.

With the demand for the delivery of digital transformation being so huge, the NHS needs to get existing employees to see this as an opportunity to get involved rather than turn in the other direction.

2. Structure

A flawed governance and team structure can also impact the workplace environment. A clear team structure with the right roles and authority will assist in creating a collaborative, organised, low-stress working environment. This collaborative working environment will allow employees to effectively tackle issues during this period of rising demand.

Furthermore, when looking to recruit new staff, employers should ensure all job descriptions make sense and that personal specification leaves room for people to gain health and care experience. Focusing on the team structure to remove any factors of unnecessary stress will allow for more time to be dedicated to supporting the ongoing need for digital transformation.

3. Diversity

Another key factor that is playing a key part in the great workforce challenge is the lack of diversity. A diverse workforce allows for a wider array of skills, experiences, and backgrounds to learn from and contribute to the team ethos. The variety of perspectives is key to ensuring truly inclusive opportunities to people and an inclusive service.

For health and care digital employers, it’s key to ensure equal opportunities are presented to support the growth of a diverse, digital workforce. Leaning into remote working opens the opportunity for international recruitment, further diversifying and enhancing the healthcare workforce.

4. Skills and experience

With low capacity and extremely high demand, health and social care organisations often feel they can’t afford to spend time on training new staff on the vital systems and processes, so instead spend time trying to find someone with the perfect skillset for the role.

However, the structure and governance of the healthcare system should support the training and development of new and existing staff to ensure they can continue to deliver to the best of their ability and expand their knowledge of digital health.

5. Retention

A lack of pastoral care, engagement and training is contributing to high levels of staff turnover, burnout, and sickness rates. Employers need to work with staff to find the right balance. All employees will need the space, time, and support to grow and develop, no matter the experience or skillset of the individual,

It’s also essential to encourage collaboration amongst team members. Team members can start to feel isolated if their colleagues are all too busy to collaborate and may look to find somewhere else with a stronger team culture. Retaining staff is far more than offering mediocre training courses to employees but is based on building lifelong learning and commitment to the team and a commitment to improving healthcare.

Discover more about the Great Digital Workforce Challenge at HETT North 2024

HETT North is a new extension to the established HETT Show and is taking place on 28th February at Manchester Central Convention Complex. HETT North provides the opportunity for you to convene, connect and collaborate with fellow healthcare professionals at a flagship event that focuses on digital transformation in healthcare.

The agenda is packed full of digital transformation topics across key themes, such as Digitally Empowered Patients, Digital Maturity and more.

HETT North is free-to-attend for NHS, charities, and the public sector.

Register for HETT North
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