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Being world-famous in digital health is not enough

TL/DR: We need to be recognised outside our bubble, digital is about people (as always), questions for the digital health profession, So what’s next and get involved

In my ancestral home of Aotearoa there is a marketing tagline ‘world-famous in New Zealand’. It’s a classic Kiwi self-deprecating spin on a great product that is pretty much only available in NZ.

A statute bottle of Lemon and Paeroa in New Zealand

Immersed in the Digital Health Rewired conference recently, it was great to connect to colleagues and partners for the first time in person for several years. It was a place to celebrate successes, discuss challenges and contemplate policy but from time to time it was hard not to think we were back in our digital bubble. Of course, this isn’t an absolute and its important we don’t underestimate the progress we’ve made as a community so beautifully represented by the enormity in growth and the volumes of nurses present. It did however provide a moment of reflection.

Digital journeys are at their foremost people journeys and it is often through our people, our broad church of digital professionals that we work to understand what is needed, what is possible and how we make it happen. How do we support our people to create the conditions inside and across our organisations to be allowed to work the right way, operate at the very top of our licence to ensure what we do meets the needs of our society? How do we ensure we represent the wide range of skills, roles and competencies across design, data, technology, knowledge and change? How do we build trust and positioning so our professionals are front and centre in delivery and policy? How do we ensure we have the visibility of our profession to wrangle the major gap in the digital professional workforce to meet the needs of health and care along with aspirations of policy makers? How do we inspire and elevate the next generation of professionals?

Step forward the #YearOfDigitalProfession. An opportunity to turbo-charge the efforts on our professionalisation journey across all levels and roles; from pipeline and early careers through to leveraging our ‘alumni’. Framed through the Federation of Informatics Professionals (FEDIP) Charter we now have a collective manifesto for action that this year builds on the expertise and history of our professional bodies. This is a great opportunity to unify around activities to step change the visibility and voice of our profession.

So what’s in it for you? If you work in Digital Health and Care (across industry, retail health, social care, NHS, schools, voluntary sector and more) you have probably had several thoughts ( I often do) about how did I end up here? Where do I go now? Do I belong here? Am I still current? How do I specialise? How do I explore skill/competency interest areas? How do I bring others with me? How do I have a debate with my employer about CPD? What’s my next career step? How do I give back and make it easier for others? How do I get involved in policy? How do I improve pay/rewards/conditions? Why are we late to the table so often? How do I connect to the right communities?

Perhaps a start is to nominate and recognise digital health colleagues (if you're in NHS or Social Care) through the The digital and data awards — NHS England — Citizen Space.

There are so many more questions — through this year and the charter we will make progress and if we grasp this moment to elevate our presence and voice, be at the forefront of integrated personalised care we will get the recognition and profession we deserve (and answer some of the questions on the way).

When you ask people who works in Health and Care you get Doctors, Nurses, AHPs, Carers, Social Workers…..its time for Digital Professionals to be on that list. Success of the Year of the Digital Professional and FEDIP Charter will be when we are no longer just world-famous in digital health.



A collection of thinking from SABP Digital where we strive to put #PeopleBeforeTechnology. These blogs are shared in the spirit of energising learning and ‘make it open, it makes things better’

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Mike Cavaye

Certified Health CIO @sabpdigital, Digital Health CIO Advisory Panel Member, NHS Digital Academy Alumni #PeopleBeforeTechnology