The first cohort of the Organisation for the Review of Care and Health’s (ORCHA) Digital Academy, which includes frontline NHS and social care staff, have completed a foundation training module.

The digital academy from ORCHA was launched as a health training resource for healthcare professionals in March 2022. It is a free resource for frontline workers and delivers CPD-accredited training in short, bite-size modules.

Each module on the foundation courses was developed in conjunction with leading professionals and universities. To date, over a thousand frontline staff have completed training via the digital learning hub.

Alison Johnson, director of programmes and projects at ORCHA, said: “For all of us who have worked in the NHS and understand the reality of the time pressures and technical shortfalls experienced by frontline staff, getting the academy right has been deeply personal. We are over the moon that so many delegates have tried our foundation modules and given such a positive response.”

The new academy has already been embedded into learning platforms at Hereford and Worcester ICS, Birmingham Community NHS Foundation Trust, Central and Northwest London NHS Foundation Trust and the mHealth Hub.

Along with ICSs and NHS trusts, delegates from Alzheimer’s Scotland, charity Best for You with CW+ and the Chartered Society of Physiotherapists have also accessed the training.

A study commissioned by ORCHA revealed that although 65% of the public is open to trying digital health, only a tiny number of tools are recommended by healthcare professionals. ORCHA found just 3% of recommendations came from hospital doctors, 6% from GPs and 2% from nurses.

The need to train a digital-ready workforce has been underlined by the NHSX Readiness Plan, which calls for investment in developing frontline skills in digital health through professional development. In addition, May 2022 saw the Phillips Ives Nursing and Midwifery Review, which is looking into the digital readiness of nurses and midwives.

ORCHA is providing the service, and the foundation modules are sponsored by Boehringer Ingelheim.

Uday Bose, managing director and head of human pharma at Boehringer Ingelheim UK & Ireland, said: “We all understand why digital health is needed. The academy is at the vanguard of how it is going to happen. There’s no other grass roots training facility like this and we are so pleased to have enabled its inception.”

ORCHA intends to launch several clinical specialist modules that will be available free with the support of an additional sponsor, enabling delegates to access digital health learning specific to their field. ORCHA is currently developing additional clinical modules in mental health, MSK, diabetes and maternity.