Workforce engagement is vital to the successful adoption of digital systems

  • 10 July 2024
Workforce engagement is vital to the successful adoption of digital systems

Appropriate engagement and support for clinical staff is not just fundamental to digital implementation, it is also essential post go-live and beyond, writes Fiona Mills in the final part of our four-part series on effective NMAHP digital teams

Key Messages:

  • Clinical engagement is an essential contributor to successful digital implementation
  • Ensure several different methods of engagement are utilised to maximise impact
  • Engagement must continue post go-live to ensure ongoing successful digital adoption

Historically there has been much focus on affecting change through digital implementation. This is important – but we also need to consider what happens after go-live. How we keep clinical teams engaged and involved in digital projects is a fundamental aspect of healthcare today.

Completing numerous digital implementation projects as part of a trust wide EPR deployment has provided me with the perfect opportunity to explore what works well to engage with clinical teams.

Many digital implementations are run as part of a project management process with media and communications, education and training and engagement of clinical services as different aspects of the project. For each new digital process implementation we were starting from scratch with engagement of the clinical teams; we wanted to change this narrative. We had a nursing digital documentation change project already planned, so we decided to make changes in the way the content was delivered and the clinical teams were involved to future proof the process.

Training and development

Starting with the fundamental aspects of any digital change we considered the training we had in place, how training was delivered, and how well it was received by clinical teams. The main finding was that much of the available training was based on a traditional e-learning method which, as a team, we wanted to change. We began creating new content using different methods including short snappy videos, written user guides and new interactive e-learning materials.

Alongside additional training material, we changed the way we deliver content by using as many methods available to us as possible. We now create face to face classroom content and sessions, online content and training, and deliver ‘at the elbow’ sessions in the clinical areas as required.

Online content and social media

A big change in process has been leveraging digital tools that have become more recently available to us. We have established an online platform on our intranet solution with clear signposts to new project content, what’s happening, and any changes to processes. The site includes access to all training content and materials available for projects and links to relevant content from other teams. We have shared this link across the organisation and can see on analytics how many people have accessed information and what has been accessed.

We also use our in-house social media platform, signposting changes and encouraging Q&A, sharing best practice and any updates that we have, as well as seeking feedback from clinical end users. We implemented this as part of the nursing documentation project but have maintained it consistently since then. Our social media platform remains our main method of communicating [digital] changes. This platform also led us to the final part of the engagement piece – digital champions.

Digital champion network

One of the most successful initiatives by the team has been the expansion of the digital champion network across all specialities and clinical areas.

Digital champions are clinical staff who have been identified in each area with an interest in digital, and who act as role models and mentors for their peers. They are now an essential part of any implementation and change management process. They are the individuals on the ground who can share the training with their clinical teams – an excellent way to disseminate knowledge across a large organisation.

The digital team have provided additional training and resources for the champions to ensure that they have an appropriate level of understanding to teach other members of the team on any new initiative or project.

Post go-live changes

Making changes to the way that we engage with our clinical teams has been incredibly successful. The change in engagement, uptake and improved communication processes has made a tangible difference to each project that we have implemented.

An excellent example of the success of these changes is the nursing documentation project, where as a team of seven, we ensured that over 4000 members of staff accessed training content and resources.

Positive feedback from our clinical teams is another good indicator that the changes have improved engagement. As a team we aim to build on this achievement. We utilise the training and digital engagement process as part of all digital projects and changes, but most importantly we are keeping the momentum of the digital champions network going.

The network of over 200 digital champions across the organisation includes all members of the multi-disciplinary team. We have established additional digital champions training delivered either online or face to face, run quarterly hybrid drop-in sessions, and provide a newsletter. We also engage with clinical teams in all clinical settings by running a quarterly digital site visit, including teams from across the digital directorate. The digital champion network has fostered a culture of digital learning and innovation within the organisation.

Providing our clinical workforce with a variety of tools for training and education, and a range of methods to deliver training and information, has led to significant improvements in engagement and implementation of digital. Ensuring that this momentum is continued post go-live, into business as usual, has improved engagement and digital uptake in the long term and has ensured that there is a good foundation of knowledge and skills within the workforce for further digital initiatives and projects.

We are providing the skills and input for our digital champions to develop into future digital leaders. Many of the digital champions have already looked at other opportunities in digital to further develop their skills, which is exciting for the future.

Fiona Mills Fiona Mills is a deputy CNIO at Oxford University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust. A paediatric nurse, she is also on the RCN Digital Nursing Forum Committee, is a FedIP advanced practitioner and member of the BCS.



Read the previous articles in the series:

The benefits of working in a professional, diverse, digital team
How to implement change: the crucial role of the digital clinical lead
What makes an effective digital NMAHP team

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