The National Nursing and Midwifery Digital Health Capability Framework: What it is and how to use it

Digital health

Where are you at with digital capability? The Australian Digital Health Agency (ADHA) and the Australian Nursing and Midwifery Federation (ANMF) are promoting a suite of resources to help you in using the National Nursing and Midwifery Digital Health Framework to assess your level of digital capability in your individual practice. Here’s what you need to know.


As the use of technology to deliver healthcare increases, digital health related skills and capabilities are becoming an essential component of professional clinical practice.

Recognising the changes in healthcare due to the growing adoption of digital technologies, the National Nursing and Midwifery Digital Health Capability Framework was released in October 2020.

The framework was developed by the ADHA and the Australasian Institute of Digital Health (AIDH); while the ANMF assisted with development and chaired the Advisory Committee overseeing the project.

The framework defines the digital health knowledge, skills and attitudes required for professional practice.

  • Individual nurses and midwives can use the framework to assess their own capability across a range of digital health specific domains.
  • Employers can utilise the framework to understand the digital health capabilities they should be supporting within their workforce.

What is the purpose of the framework?

The framework was designed to guide nurses and midwives to determine their digital capability level and identify where they can enhance their skills.

It outlines five different domains which cover broadly the breadth of the role of nurses and midwives in digital health:

  • Domain 1 – Digital Professionalism;
  • Domain 2 – Leadership and Advocacy;
  • Domain 3 – Data and Information Quality;
  • Domain 4 – Information-Enabled Care; and
  • Domain 5 – Technology

“The framework enables nurses and midwives to complete a self-assessment of their individual digital capability and identify their potential learning needs going forward.

“It’s freely available to all nurses and midwives and I encourage all of you to access the framework,” said ANMF Federal Professional Officer Julie Reeves.

How do I use the framework?

The framework is designed for you to work through each of the five domains.

While completing a self-assessment using the framework, nurses and midwives are guided to identify their current capability level, which may be the formative, intermediate or proficient level across the domains.

“The framework is structured in a way that is broad enough to enable it to be applied to all nurse and midwife roles across the professions irrespective of your context of practice or if you’re working in a tertiary hospital or in a community in a remote area,” Ms Reeves said.

A nurse or midwife’s digital capability will be significantly impacted by the level of digital technologies they are able to access while working.

A nurse working in a health service with minimal access to digital technologies will be unlikely to achieve a proficient level across all domains, or a midwife working in a health setting which is introducing a new electronic medical record, may initially only be able to achieve a formative level in some of the domains.

“If you work in a fully integrated digital hospital, then your capability level might be at a higher level than someone who works in a health system that remains majority paper-based,” Ms Reeves said.

“What you need to remember when you’re completing your self-assessment is that the assessment is based on your individual scope of practice, your context of practice and your role.”

The ADHA and the ANMF have developed educational tools to help members’ apply the framework to determine their own digital capability level, including a short introductory video and an informative webinar. In addition, two brief interviews demonstrate a nurse practitioner and midwife applying the framework to their own individual practice.

The first interview features Melinda Brooks, a nurse practitioner specialising in wound management in community and aged care.

Melinda works through her own self-assessment on a number of the domains in the framework and discusses how these can be applied to her role, identifying which capability level she believes she is at, within each area.

“It was quite easy to complete, everything was quite self-explanatory. I think completing it made me really think about the role of technology and digital information in my practice. It’s probably not something I generally reflect on.”

Due to ongoing lockdowns and restrictions with the pandemic Melinda found it difficult to get out and see patients over the past few years, particularly in aged care.

“So the use of telehealth has become a huge part of my practice in the last couple of years… using a variety of digital methods to achieve that depending on the people that I need to see and where they are.”

“I think it’s a really important aspect that the technology we have is used as well as it can be and we do have so much information out there that we can access.”

Unsurprisingly, as an advanced practitioner Melinda scored largely proficient, and intermediate, in her digital capabilities in the five domains of the framework.

However she said “there’s always room for improving” and identified future learning opportunities around data analytics, effective frameworks in digital messaging, and leadership and advocacy.

“I’m always teaching nurses, allied health, and a whole range of clinicians out there about wound care. I think in this time in our lives that it’s very important that digital technology is used effectively and proficiently to aid in the best outcomes for the person, the patient,” she said.

A second video features Haidee Latham, a midwife working in rural and remote Queensland, and how she applied the capabilities in the framework to her practice.

“I found it quite easy. I found that I know a lot more than that what I thought I did to begin with. I know this is an ever expanding industry and the learning never stops. I know what I need to know and how to do it, but there’s always more to learn.”

Haidee is also largely at the proficient level in her digital capability, consistent with her being an experienced midwife. However she was at the intermediate level, and even at the formative level, in a number of the sub-domains of the framework.

Many of these sub-domains identified as formative were reflective of Haidee’s limited and patchy access to internet and digital capabilities due to her rural location – so the framework was consistent with her scope of practice, and also her context of practice.

“Being rural and remote it’s all about adapting with the environment, sometimes things work, sometimes things don’t but at the foremost it’s about providing good care and if these [digital technologies] can make our job a little bit easier then that’s a good thing.

“The hospital I’m working in, we’re still yet to get fully digitally capable. So there’s still a learning journey that’s going to happen for me in my professional practice when we transition to that technology.

“I definitely want to further my education if there’s something that’s going to make me more efficient in with my time and my care.”

The Framework is freely available to all nurses and midwives on the ADHA website – National Nursing and Midwifery Digital Health Capability Framework

Further information and support:

Australian Nursing & Midwifery Federation – https://www.anmf.org.au/professional/digital-health

Australian Digital Health Agency – www.digitalhealth.gov.au

Resources
Introduction to the National Nursing and Midwifery Digital Health Capability Framework webinar
Member Interview – Melinda Brooks, Nurse Practitioner
Member Interview – Haidee Latham, Midwife

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