New report looks at ways to inspire health professionals to support patients with digital health skills

Health professionals need support to be more confident and willing to engage when it comes to their own digital skills in the workplace before they can support others, according to the results of a pilot project in Sheffield published today.

The project was run by the Sheffield City Region Perfect Patient Pathway Test Bed and social change charity Good Things Foundation.

The two Sheffield-based organisations set out to discover how easy it is for health professionals to support their patients with digital skills learning, which in turn, could help them manage long-term conditions more easily.

Other key findings include:
● digital health training must be recognised at and promoted by all levels of the NHS hierarchy and should be incorporated into practitioners’ continuing professional development in order to increase take up
● a peer support approach should be encouraged by colleagues at all levels to raise awareness of digital health before it can be translated into conversations with patients.

Philippa Hedley-Takhar from the Perfect Patient Pathway Test Bed says: “We’d like to thank all the participants of the project who have helped further our understanding of the challenges and opportunities for patients and health professionals to talk about digital skills and resources for self- management of long-term conditions. It’s been interesting to see how shared experiences and peer support have changed behaviours and attitudes to digital health.”

Tom French, the lead researcher from Good Things Foundation, says: “This has been a really insightful piece of work and one that I hope will go a long way in helping the NHS to adopt a more digital approach when it comes to supporting patients with a long term condition. Although we now have a much better understanding of how we can develop health professionals’ capacity to improve digital health skills for this patient group, I think in the future it would be possible to do further research to find one approach, or multiple approaches, that will make this a possibility for all”

The report is available here along with lots of helpful tools and resources that were created as part of the project.