• eLearning
  • England’s NHS spending on a digital academy

    Developing eHealth leaders is an essential component of successful eHealth. NHS England has announced it’s creating the NHS Digital Academy. Its goal’s to train and develop informatics capabilities for Chief Information Officers (CIO) and Chief Clinical Information Officers (CCIO). The one year programme’ll provide specialist ICT training and development support to 300 senior clinicians and health managers.

    It implements the recommendation in a report from the National Advisory Group on Health  Information Technology  in England, lead by its chair, Prof Robert Wachter, chair of University of California, San Francisco  Department of Medicine. The report identified a shortage of CCIO and CIO professionals who can advance eHealth transformation. Harnessing the Power of Health Information Technology to Improve Care in England proposed spending of £42m, about US$55m, €46m, to strengthen and expand CCIOs’ capacity, especially in informatics, and health ICT professionals. It’s about 1% of the England’s £4.2b eHealth plan. It’s about 0.04% of NHS England’s total spending.

    NHS Digital Academy will have three main partners in the initiative, Imperial College London, the University of Edinburgh and Harvard Medical School. Part of the programme’s remit’s to support the development of vibrant professional societies for clinician and non-clinician informaticians, informatics researchers, programme evaluators and system optimisers. It’ll be mainly online, with some residential events.

    eHealth success needs many other leaders across the whole reach of programmes. It seems that their development needs are not part of this initiative. NHS England already has its Leadership Academy.

    Can Africa’s health systems start a journey towards this? Several Universities across Africa already provide health informatics degrees. Several Africans attend the Master’s in e-Health Management course at Rome Business School, supported by Acfee, which also provides Future eHealth Leaders events, including pre-conference workshops at this year’s eHealthAFRO 2017. While modest compared to NHS England’s initiatives, these combine into a start-point for eHealth leadership capacity.

  • Masters in eHealth management applications open now

    Like all health systems, developing eHealth management and leadership skills are essential for Africa. In February this year, Acfee and Rome Business School (RBS) set up an arrangement to support the RBS Masters in eHealth and Telemedicine Management. The next course starts in October 2017. Online applications are already now.

    Part of the arrangement is a discounted price for applicants from Africa. It’s only available to Acfee members. Acfee membership’s free to people working in health and eHealth, health and healthcare organisations, professional bodies and health ICT entities.

    If you’re already a member, you can use your Acfee membership number in your RBS application. To join, email info@acfee.org with details of your current role and employer, and Acfee will send you a membership number and information pack.

  • Acfee and Rome Business School collaborate on eHealth Masters

    Today Acfee signed a collaborative agreement with Rome Business School (RBS) to enrol more African students on its Masters in E-Health Management. It’s a course with a proven track record and includes students from across the spectrum of health and healthcare professions, not just people working directly on eHealth. RBS already has students from Africa. Acfee members can now benefit from discounted fees.

    A core goal for Acfee is helping our colleagues across African countries to develop their countries' human eHealth capacity. Formal, university education is part of this and Acfee is building partnerships with a number of institutions in Africa and beyond. There’s now an opportunity for all types of Africa’s health and eHealth entities to set up programmes of eHealth learning for all types of workers who want to advance eHealth to achieve healthier Africans.

    It’s a big step forward for Africa’s eHealth to have wider access to RBS's proven Masters programme. The course is a combination of theory and case studies from live eHealth projects. The next one, in English, starts in March 2017 and completes in September 2017. Another course is planned to start later in the year. There are also opportunities for seminars and workshops.

    The discounted price is only available to Acfee members. Acfee membership is free to individuals working in health and eHealth, health and healthcare organisations and professional bodies and health ICT entities. If you’re already a member, you can use your Acfee membership number in your RBS application. To join, email info@acfee.org with details of your current role and employer, and Acfee will send you a membership number and information pack. For security purposes, Acfee holds members’ details offline.

    RBS is a managerial training and research institute of excellence. It operates internationally. Its aims are to help to close the gap between academia and job markets by providing managerial training courses that convey the knowledge needed to kick off or develop professional careers or business activities. Its mission is to train entrepreneurs, managers and professionals to a level of excellence in their competence and ethics in business and work. This extends to them contributing to developing economic humanity, more prosperous and fair societies and respect of the central role of individuals.

    Building from this ethos, Acfee will help people achieving their Masters to become part of a growing community of African eHealth professionals. Please don’t hesitate to contact Acfee for more details and help in designing an eHealth training programme tailored to your country's needs.

  • WHO shows Africa’s health eLearning is trailing – unpacking the 3rd Global Survey on eHealth

    Both health and healthcare rely on intensive, continuing learning. Reaching everyone who needs it’s challenging for African countries. While eLearning can help, Africa’s trailing global trends. eLearning data from WHO Global Survey 2015, the data source for the  WHO and Global Observatory for eHealth (GOe) publication eHealth Report of the third global survey on eHealth Global diffusion of eHealth: Making universal health coverage achievable, provides insights for Chapter 4.                                                                                              

    It found at least two thirds of responding Member States use eLearning for health science education, both pre-service education and in-service training, with Africa at 48%, so about 70% of the global average. Putting this outlying performance in the context of healthcare spending per head shows it as a considerable achievement.

    Africa’s average healthcare spending per head’s some US$145, about 14% of the World Bank global average of about US$1,061. The highest’s about 62%, the lowest less than 2%. WHO’s eLearning score of 70%’s well above these, indicating a relative high priority accorded to eLearning in a stringent resource context.

    A global eLearning profile’s:

    Medical students education at 91%Doctors education at 84%Pre-service education at 80%In-service public health education at 68%.

    Five barriers to eLearning programmes supporting Universal Health Coverage (UHC) are, lack of capacity, availability of courses, human resources, finance and cost-effectiveness evidence. WHO’s report says evidence shows that eLearning for health professionals’ education is effective or more effective than traditional teaching. This offers a good case for advancing eLearning if Africa can ease through the other barriers.

  • India’s Kerala now has an eHealth training centre

    An eHealth training initiative’s opened in Thiruvananthapuram, capital of the Indian state of Kerala. The Hindu has a report that the state’s health department set up the regional training centre at the Medical College Hospital in the capital.

    It’s part of the states’ resources for the central government’s EHR and demographic database project, reported in eHNA. The national project also includes phased automation of all government hospitals and primary health centres. The training centre will help to train doctors and other healthcare workers staff in the new system.

    It’s a bold investment that can help secure sustainable eHealth training and development. It provides a benchmark for Africa’s health systems too. eHealth without sustained training, personal development and expanded human eHealth capabilities, it doesn’t maximise benefits. In common with cyber-security, sustained eHealth training’s a pre-requisite.

  • Ghana starts an eHealth learning platform for doctors

    Developing health worker’s skills is an important role for Africa’s eHealth. An article in Citifm Online says Ghana’s health service (GHS), in collaboration with Incision Academy has introduced an eHealth learning platform to build on doctors’ surgical skills. It’s part of the medical profession’s Continuous Professional Development (CPD) and aims to help doctors in remote areas to use their mobile phones to accumulate credit points for their Ghana Medical and Dental Council licences.

    The Netherlands Embassy is part of the initiative too, and a Memorandum of Understanding’s (MoU) been signed with Incision. It’s part of the Academy’s approach to standardise surgery practices in developing economies where there are scarce skills and services. Its expertise is directly relevant to develop doctors’ capacities through online learning and training platforms. The service’s linked to a payment systems credit points that includes mobile money.

    The WHO Global eHealth Survey 2015 showed Africa lagging about 209% behind globally on using eLearning as part of a wider eHealth programme for healthcare professionals. It’s almost twice as far behind on using eLearning for health sciences students. GHS and Incision could be at the start of a bigger journey across Africa.  

  • Acfee's eLearning programme on track

    Realising the vision of healthier Africans, health systems need strengthening. eHealth’s a core enabler to achieving it, but successful eHealth needs to deliver more benefits for people. Unlocking this transformation potential and developing it with African countries is Acfee’s main goal. eLearning’s one of its planned initiatives.

    The aim’s to develop the eHealth’s capacity of all types of health workers and leaders in African countries to enhance and support their endeavours to improve health outcomes for their people. Acfee’s starting point is direct strengthening of countries’ eHealth strategies, implementation and benefits realisation plans. Achieving these needs a personal development programme for a wide range of eHealth leaders. The outcome’s sustainable eHealth success.

    The eLearning programme’s consistent with South Africa’s Classification of Educational Subject Matter (CESM) set out in its Higher Education Qualification Framework Handbook. There are currently eight modules in Afees’ programme. The eLearning courses and lessons can then be assimilated into formal degree courses at African universities.

    The first eight courses in production are part of the first CESM module Introduction: eHealth's Opportunities and Challenges. Topics are: 

    What's eHealth? eHealth Strategies eHealth Plans eHealth Business Cases eHealth Procurement eHealth Implementation Benefits Realisation Monitoring and Evaluation.

    The first two’ll be available in July. The others will follow in sequence. Then, other courses will support other CESM modules.

  • The latest on leadership, learning, change and engagement for eHealth?

    Success in eHealth depends as much on good soft skills as the hard ICT ones. Soft skills are sometimes called people skills. They include leadership, learning, engagement, culture and change. In eHealth, there’s rarely enough of them simultaneously, so developing them’s a priority. 

    As Africa’s health systems move ahead on eHealth, it’s important they see the latest trends, assess them critically and adopt what’s relevant. Deloitte has published its Global Human Capital Trends 2016. It sets out ten trends. Five of these are important for Africa’s eHealth@ Leadership, learning, culture, engagement and organisational design. They’re also the top five of the ten trends, and they’re all connected.

    Leadership needs improving. That’s what 89% of executive say. About 56% say their organisations aren’t ready to meet their leadership needs. This confirms that, like most organisations, Africa’s health systems should review their eHealth leadership strengths and weaknesses, then take any steps needed to improve it. As eHealth opportunities keep moving on, eHealth leadership needs frequent and regular reviews.

    Learning’s expanding. About 84% of executives say it’s important or very important. Learning opportunities are seen as the largest drivers of employee engagement and strong workplace culture, so directly linked to two other top priorities, and part of the employee value proposition, not just a way to build and expand skills. Since 2015, companies are adopting new technologies and learning models. Some 43%, up 13% points, are comfortable using Massive Open Online Courses (MOOC).

    Engagement and culture are closely integrated. Culture’s described as “the way things work around here.” Engagement’s “how people feel about the way things work around here.” It’s also seen as “employee listening” and “Always on.” Some of the engagement tools picked up in the trends might be helpful to Africa’s eHealth, but they’re not enough. Engaging health professionals on eHealth needs a more direct and personal model that represents the professions’ willingness to change and the direction and types of eHealth change that they want to pursue. It’s an immensely challenging endeavour for eHealth. 

    About 85% of executives see engagement as a top priority. Only 46% say they’re ready for it. Thre rate of improvement’s modest over the last year. For eHealth, there may be much more to do. Two themes from the trends are essential. One’s listening, and extended into doing something about it, the second’s always on. For eHealth, engagement, and its culture counterpart, should start early, with the initial eHealth strategies and investment decisions, then be sustained into operation and benefits realisation. From these, the engagement model and culture’ll be ready to deal with the next wave of eHealth investment.

    Organisational design is a shift from traditional, functional models and structures toward interconnected, flexible and agile teams. It’s prevalent in customer-focused organisations, so fits healthcare. Some 92% of executives say it’s a top priority. Deloitte says network teams that are empowered to work on specific business projects and challenges are new organisational models. 

    It’s not a new concept for healthcare. The UK’s National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) has many reports on the topic in clinical setting, some going back as far as 2003. In addition to learning from big business, Africa’s health systems can always learn from other health systems, and compare them to their ehealth initiatives.

    For Africa’s eHealth, Deloitte’s trends show that there’s more to do. They also show that eHealth’s not the same as running corporates. Africa’s eHealth needs its own, bespoke solutions.

  • eLearning Africa calls for proposals

    The 11th eLearning Africa will bring together decision makers and practitioners from across the education, business and public sectors to debate, share and act on all themes surrounding access, openness, skills, pedagogy, sustainable development, best practice and more. The event will be in Cairo, Egypt on May 24-26 2016. Applications for proposals are now open and interested parties need to submit before January 18, 2016. 

    The African Union (AU) has set out its Vision 2063. eLearning Africa 2016 will look at the role education and technology are playing in achieving the AU's vision of a "transformed continent". How can we accelerate the pace of change? What needs to be done? What resources are available? How can vision become reality?

    The following sub-themes are a guide to submitting your proposal.

    Formal education: schools and higher education Real learning taking shape Strengthening workforce skills Practice, methods and tools Widened horizons: innovative collaborations Emerging tech for learning Sector-specific best practices 

    ICT in healthcare falls under the last category, sector specific best practices. eHealth can also be included in the sub-category ICT for education in emergencies and crises, as we have seen with numerous ehealth initiatives being developed to combat Ebola over the last year.

  • Does eLearning need a step up?

    Scarce educational resources and widespread student distributions in Africa create an important role for eLearning. It’s vital that eLearning’s educational standards and performance are at least as good as conventional class room learning. In USA, charter schools operate online, and a joint report by Mathematica Policy Research, the Center on Reinventing Public Education (CRPE) at the University of Washington and the Center for Research on Education Outcomes (CREDO) at Stanford University says that online charter school students are falling behind their peers in academic achievement. Does it offer insights to improve eLearning in Africa?

    The long list of findings include: 

    Student–driven, independent online study is the dominant mode of learning with 33% of charter schools offering only self-paced instruction Typical online teaching has fewer than five live teacher contact times a week than conventional schools have in a day Maintaining student engagement in this environment is the greatest challenge, three time more than the other challenges, identified by online charter school principals The schools place significant expectations on parents. Open admission requirements prevent schools from screening for students most likely to succeed in an online school Authorising and accountability aren’t well suited to regulation challenges Funding mechanisms preclude outcomes-based funding Most online charter students had far weaker academic growth in maths and reading compared to their traditional school peers Based on a 180-day school, the shortfall is the equivalent of losing 72 days of learning in reading and 180 days of learning in maths.

     The report’s findings of unsatisfactory performance identify the need for Africa’s health systems and eLearning services to conduct regular M&E. It also shows that eLearning’s designs and routine student monitoring need review. While eLearning students may be well past their school days and may be more motivated to learn more to improve their professional and daily work performance, it’s an assumption that may not be evenly distributed or met fully by specific eLearning services.

    An African proverb’s “When the music changes, so does the dance.” For eLearning, it’s important to be sure that everyone’s still in step, but M&E’s not always easy to do. The USA report shows why it’s vital.