Professionalisation of NHS Informatics

Professionalisation of NHS Informatics

At our final NHS Digital Academy residential this week we talked about what’s next and can we maintain momentum of what’s begun this year. 


In a video from Robert Wachter we listened as he talked about the work still to do to move from the digitisation of clinical data to real transformation. He says we still needed to ‘reimagine the work’ to take full advantage of digital tools and that  graduates of the @NHSDigAcademy and other informatics leaders needed to pick up this complex challenge. 

So how do we define informatics leaders in the NHS and what are the accreditation routes?

As of today there are two routes to accreditation:

Faculty of Clinical Informatics (FCI)  

From the website https://www.facultyofclinicalinformatics.org.uk

THE FACULTY OF CLINICAL INFORMATICS HAS BEEN ESTABLISHED AS THE MULTI-PROFESSIONAL MEMBERSHIP BODY FOR ALL HEALTH AND SOCIAL CARE QUALIFIED INDIVIDUALS WORKING AS INFORMATICIANS ACROSS THE UK.

Since the initial formation of a Steering Group in 2015, the Faculty has made significant progress and in only three years has moved through Shadow Board status and elected its first Council and Officers. At present, the Faculty is formed of over 150 Founding Fellows and Fellows, and is set to welcome further Associates, Members and Fellows into the organisation, in early 2019, following a recent successful member recruitment round.

During 2019, the Faculty of Clinical Informatics intends to continue establishing clinical informatics as a fully recognised and respected profession, in line with its Mission, Vision, Values and Objectives. This is will be achieved by fulfilling a number of key objectives, including:

  • Developing and publishing professional standards.
  • Supporting revalidation processes.
  • Providing professional accreditation for individuals and training courses.
  • Supporting clinical informaticians at every stage of their career.
  • Continuing to promote the profession.
  • Providing professional leadership.
  • Supporting recruitment and careers in clinical informatics.

The Faculty of Clinical Informatics has been, and continues to be, shaped by its unique, multi-professional membership cohort who bring a wealth of combined knowledge and experience.

Federation for Informatics Professionals (FEDIP)

From the website https://www.bcs.org/membership/get-registered/federation-for-informatics-professionals-fedip/

The Federation for Informatics Professionals (FEDIP) in health and social care brings individuals and organisations together to unlock potential in the informatics community.

You’re ready to apply for FEDIP if you:

  • work in a professional informatics role using data and technology to support health and care delivery
  • perform a range of activities including complex and non-routine tasks
  • understand how your role impacts upon patient care
  • demonstrate quality and integrity in your work
  • You need to be a member of a professional body licenced to award FEDIP:
    • BCS, The Chartered Institute for IT
    • Institute of Health Records and Information Management (IHRIM)
    • Chartered Institute of Librarians and Information Professionals (CILIP)
    • Association of Professional Healthcare Analysts (APHA)

The Problem

Don’t we need a single route or a single accreditation? Retaining two separate bodies generates silos and different standards each risking the dilution of the other. Not to mention confusing the whole concept of accreditation.

Which is better of the two above?
It depends if you’re a clinically trained or technically trained because each will only take one or the other – not both.
Should this really be the case in a modern digital society?
Don’t clinicians and doctors and analysts and technical people each add equally as much value in the arena of digital transformation?

But the FCI and FEDIP have worked hard to build reputation and standards so it doesn’t make sense to throw the baby out with the bathwater. 

Could there be a third way?

I wonder if a standard accreditation called something like ‘Accredited Digital Specialist’ could be awarded to anyone (clinical or non clinical) with the requisite qualifications or other significant experience. 

Perhaps the two current organisations could be the approved routes to this accreditation with FCI accrediting clinical staff and FEDIP accrediting non clinicians.
We need a set of agreed standards across both organisations and a single logo / set of initials to indicate we are accredited.

I think we could benefit from some support and input from our National CCIO (Simon Eccles) and CIO (Will Smart) to help us reach this point. Or perhaps our Secretary of State Matt Hancock could provide some useful direction.

I believe we need our digital future to be coordinated and well led via a single recognised accreditation whatever your background, skillset or route into informatics and this will really help us all. 

Comments or ideas anyone?

@robblagden

Rob Blagden works for 2gether NHS Foundation Trust in Gloucestershire as Deputy Director of IT, he is also the Trust’s Lead Governor.

Rob was recently elected to sit on the first Alumni Committee for the Digital Academy.

Rob Blagden