The NHS must “focus on building a digital ready workforce”, a report by Dr Eric Topol has concluded.

The California based cardiologist, geneticist, and digital medicine expert was commissioned by the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care and Health Education England in May 2018, to carry out an independent review into the digital training needs of NHS staff.

The Topol Review, published today, includes three principles to support the deployment of digital healthcare technologies across the NHS.

These are:

  1. Patients should be suitably informed about health technologies, with particular focus on vulnerable groups to ensure fair access
  2. The healthcare workforce needs knowledge and guidance to evaluate new technologies
  3. The adoption of technology should be used to give healthcare staff more time to care and interact directly with patients

It also provides advice on technologies and developments that will change clinical roles; how staff can be prepared for that change; and therefore the changes required in the education and training of staff.

Such technologies include genomics, digital medicine, artificial intelligence and robotics.

In summary, the review states there needs to be a “renewed focus on workforce development” if digital transformation is to be achieved in the NHS.

It adds: “To reap the benefits, the NHS must focus on building a digitally ready workforce that is fully engaged and has the skills and confidence to adopt and adapt new technologies in practice and in context.

“The service needs leaders who can inspire and implement sustainable, systemic change.

“Boards require the expertise to make informed investment decisions, founded on real-world evidence of effectiveness, to drive improvement in a data-rich NHS.”

Matt Hancock, Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, said: “Technology will make the NHS the best in the world and I want everyone who works in the health and care system to be empowered to embrace it – from porters to pathologists, surgeons to social care workers.

“I would like to thank Dr. Topol for his crucial report, which will act as a blueprint as we implement our Tech Vision and Long Term Plan for the NHS, and bring about a brighter future and better NHS for everyone.”