As the digital world explodes, digital health is part and parcel of every nurse and/or midwife’s lives, whatever our role. While many will enthusiastically embrace this change and believe they excel at using digital health technologies, or at least feel capable, some nurses and midwives may wonder if their digital capability is sufficient.
Until now, there hasn’t been a way for nurses and midwives in Australia to objectively assess their proficiency against a digital capability framework.
The National Nursing and Midwifery Digital Health Capability Framework (NNMDHCF) was released by the Hon. Greg Hunt, Minister for Health, on 28 October 2020. It was developed by the Australian Digital Health Agency in conjunction with the Australasian Institute of Digital Health.
The Australian Nursing and Midwifery Federation (ANMF) were also part of the framework development and chaired the project’s advisory committee.
The development of the Framework was a collaboration, with representation from the Australian Primary Health Care Nurses Association, the Congress of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Nurses and Midwives, the Australian College of Nursing, the Australian College of Midwives, Chief Nursing and Midwifery Officers, the Nursing and Midwifery Board of Australia, the Australian Nursing and Midwifery Accreditation Council, Consumers, and the Digital Health Cooperative Research Centre. The professions of nursing and midwifery are the first in the country to develop a digital capability framework specifically focused on the needs of these professions. The next profession to develop a framework is medicine.
Although challenging at times, chairing the advisory committee was deeply rewarding, working towards a common goal alongside nursing and midwifery colleagues. It makes me proud to be part of a profession that works together to advance and progress not only the individual nurse or midwife but the professions as a whole. I believe we’ve made this progress by developing a framework that is evidence-based, accessible, and easy to use.
The NNMDHCF was not designed to be used as a punitive measure nurses and midwives have to meet, but instead was developed as a guide to enable nurses and midwives to identify their capability level and provide clarity as to how to enhance their skills.
The digital capability framework consists of five domains:
- Domain 1 Digital Professionalism;
- Domain 2 Leadership and Advocacy;
- Domain 3 Data and Information Quality;
- Domain 4 Information-enabled Care; and
- Domain 5 Technology
Person-centred, safe, quality and connected care are at the heart of the NNMDHCF, with each domain having three sub-domains with four related capability statements. Completing a self-assessment using the framework, guides nurses and midwives to identify their current capability level as being either formative, intermediate or proficient across the domains.
It’s important to note that a nurses’ or midwives’ digital capability will be significantly impacted by the level and kinds of digital technologies they access in the workplace.
A nurse working in a health service with minimal access to digital technologies, for example, will be unlikely to achieve a level of proficiency across all domains, or a midwife working in a health setting that’s introducing a new electronic medical record may only be able to achieve a formative level in some of the domains.
The NNMDHCF is freely available to all nurses and midwives on the Australian Digital Health Agency’s website at the following link: https://www.digitalhealth.gov.au/healthcare-providers/initiatives-and-programs/workforce-and-education
There are also a number of resources to assist nurses and midwives to use the NNMDHCF, including case studies and an organisational flow chart that helps you to identify the digital level of the health service or setting you work in.
I encourage you all to use the framework to identify your digital capability – you might be surprised to identify you are further advanced than you thought you were. If you do note areas where you could improve, I would suggest you add these to your continuous professional development plan for next year.
The use of digital health technologies is ever-increasing, and digital capability is proving to be essential in improving health outcomes. The people for whom we provide care are also increasingly expecting digital technology advancement to be a part of their healthcare delivery. As the largest health workforce, nurses and midwives should be at the forefront of leading digital health technology. Get involved and engaged in advancing digital health!