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Innovation, Digital and Transformation

Workforce capacity and capability remains the number one priority for the whole care system, so the need to provide high quality education and training and workforce skills interventions remains critical.

The Innovation, Digital and Transformation Directorate brings together a range of programmes and services to support health and care systems to address their workforce transformation challenges. Our aim is to help the sector attract new talent, upskill the existing workforce, design and develop new roles and new ways of working while developing a more technically enabled, digitally skilled workforce.

Responding to key elements in We are the NHS: People Plan 2020/21 the Digital Transformation chapter of the NHS Long-term Plan and recommendations in the Topol Review ‘Preparing the healthcare workforce to deliver the digital future’, the directorate is in place to enable the innovative and transformational change needed across health education.

We welcome and actively seek to collaborate with other arms-length bodies, educational providers, third sector providers and similar, related organisations to leverage their wider skills and abilities to complement our own.

Programmes and services

Workforce Transformation

The national workforce transformation team supports HEE regional teams and systems directly, using proven methodologies, tools and techniques to identify and prioritise workforce challenges, whether those be rooted in workforce shortages, skills gaps or designing new models of care and determine appropriate solutions. Working with partners, including ICSs, AHSNs, and regional workforce transformation leads, the  team coordinates workforce transformation effort and investment across HEE - establishing the evidence base, sharing what works, facilitating spread and adoption and accelerating workforce redesign.

The National NHS Knowledge and Library Services Team

The Team provides strategic leadership to NHS organisations and professional networks on harnessing Knowledge for Healthcare. Using the HEE Quality and Improvement Outcomes Framework, the team provides assurance that Health Knowledge and Library Services give value for money.  

HEE enables the whole healthcare workforce to use high quality digital evidence resources. This includes BMJ Best Practice. Procuring and managing these knowledge resources centrally delivers economies of scale. 

The focus of NHS Knowledge and Library Services is to enable informed decision-making, to improve patient outcomes and deliver efficiencies. They offer evidence searches and summaries, horizon scanning, information skills and health literacy training and facilitate knowledge sharing techniques. The library network encompasses specialists who work alongside their frontline healthcare colleagues. 

The internal Knowledge Management team ensures HEE staff use robust evidence, share good practice and learn from the experience of colleagues. 

Blended Learning

The Blended Learning programme has been developed to address national shortages in clinical expertise  and explores the opportunities of providing predominantly online, remote-access study to those people who may have the aptitude and values to join the medical profession, but currently are unable to learn in traditional ways.

The courses being designed will take advantage of current and emerging innovative technologies while appealing to a wider range of potential students who, for example, have to balance commitments such as having a young family or a caring role, have challenges in relation to travel or the remoteness of where they live, as well as those who have a particular interest in technology and using their digital skills to study.

Working with seven universities and an advisory group with members from partner-organisations, Health Education England will test the concept in our first ever Blended Learning Nursing Degree programme – which started in early 2021.

The Nursing Degree programme will help address the national shortage of nurses by supporting the development of undergraduate nurses through a blended learning approach. Tackling the shortage requires a multifaceted coordinated approach by various parts of the system in the training and education of nursing, making nursing an attractive career and implementing strategies to retain the nursing workforce.

Digital Readiness

The Digital Readiness Education Programme includes a range of projects designed to improve digital skills, knowledge, understanding and awareness across the health and care workforce through development and delivery of a range of offerings for our leaders, digital experts and the wider workforce. Increasing workforce digital adaptability will support improved health and care services.  The programme uses sustainable models to understand the capability and capacity needs of and to help build the future digital workforce.

HEE Technology Enhanced Learning

HEE Technology Enhanced Learning (TEL) uses digital technology to make learning easier for those working in the NHS and the wider health and care workforce for the benefit of patients and the public.

HEE TEL manages three learning platforms – the e-Learning for Healthcare (e-LfH) Hub, the Learning Hub and the Digital Learning Solution.  These platforms provide free e-learning programmes to educate and train the health and care workforce; providing access to a wide range of resources either developed by e-LfH, shared and contributed by organisations and the workforce, as well as national digital literacy training content and locally developed clinical systems learning respectively.

HEE TEL also supports the use of TEL within health and care organisations, through thought leadership across TEL and simulation-based education and supporting regional networks.  The use of innovative learning technologies including immersive technologies (AR and VR) are also part of the team’s remit.

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See latest news from the directorate below:

An enterprising new partnership between Health Education England (HEE) and the AHSN Network is developing at pace.

After successful discussions, HEE and the AHSN network have agreed to share expertise and work together across several common priorities at national and regional level.

The AHSN’s bring proven expertise in supporting and facilitating the spread and adoption of evidenced innovation across healthcare pathways, as well as their well-established, place-based relationships across the country.

HEE brings a greater awareness of the national strategic growth plan for workforce transformation enshrined in We Are the NHS: People Plan 2020/21, sharing a range of proven methodologies, tools and enabling programmes along with its own, regionally-based knowledge and expertise and the already well established partnerships in relation to digital readiness. 

One of the first areas of partnership will be the usage of the Star methodology – HEE’s model for workforce transformation.  AHSN colleagues, having been trained in the methodology will then use the model to help system partners better understand and explore the workforce challenges implicit in embedding innovations within their pathway transformation work.

Kirstie Baxter, Head of Workforce Transformation at HEE said:

“The AHSN Network and HEE have agreed to collaborate on their joint and common usage of the HEE Star as the accepted methodology in supporting health and care partners to explore, shape and prioritise the workforce challenge into deliverable, project-based solutions.

HEE will train a cohort of experienced AHSN pathway transformation colleagues, who are specialists in this area, as both facilitators and trainers themselves. This really is an excellent opportunity to bring greater capacity to support systems address their workforce transformation challenges”.

Kathy Scott, Chief Operating Officer and Deputy Chief Executive at Yorkshire and The Humber Academic Health Science Network added:

“The AHSNs, in their capacity in leading around innovation spread and adoption for the NHS, are particularly looking forward to utilising the HEE Star proven methodology and online, best practice directory to provide even more support to system partners at local, regional and ICS level to embed workforce transformation alongside complementary pathway innovation going forwards.”

Other common priority areas being pursued by the partnership for delivery to the system include, Digital Readiness, Patient Safety, Technology Enhanced Learning and Genomics.

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