Taking a new perspective on patient safety
There has been a significant shift during the pandemic as healthcare professionals moved to at-scale digital/online and remote working. This is catalysing the CPD requirements for clinicians as ‘digital’ practitioners.
So, what impact does this have on digital patient safety?
Healthcare professionals are used to carrying out risk management activities in day-to-day practice, from trips and falls to mental health assessments, but there is little awareness of the core set of standards relating to the risk management of digital technologies that are mandated in health and care. These standards, DCB0129/0160, encompass a wide range of technologies. They identify a clear process for risk assessment and management for both companies developing products and services, and organisations using them with citizens, patients and carers.
Products used in health and care fall under the DCB0160 standard and organisations will have a suite of documents capturing the risk assessments available to staff to refer to if needed. The list of risks (known as a hazard log) can help understand the potential impact on users’ safety in a service, especially challenging if you are not familiar with digital patient safety and are time-poor.
Building knowledge and skill in digital safety
Digital safety as a core competence of healthcare practitioners is an emerging field, with frameworks being published by the Faculty of Clinical Informatics and Health Education England. It can feel like a big hill to climb for busy clinicians, post-pandemic.
The NHS is leading developments in digital safety but there is to date, little training on offer or opportunities for CPD rated learning at present which would add value to healthcare professionals’ portfolios and audits by regulators and aid practice development.
Organisations should have a registered clinician who is a Clinical Safety Officer to support this work who will be trained to review the documentation and ensure the senior management are aware of any risks. Front line staff may be unaware of this role and its responsibilities. Digital Health Commissioners may also have limited insight into the role digital safety has to play as we seek to scale the implementation and use of digital healthcare services.
As we move forward with the ‘re-set of services post-pandemic, we need to raise awareness of this mandated standard. We must actively support our clinicians to optimise their use of digital clinical risk management methods in practice or train as Clinical Safety Officers and utilise the methodologies in the standards to improve patient digital safety across frontline services. It also presents new opportunities to move into extended scope roles such as those being developed in informatics and learning ways to assess potential products that might help service users achieve their goals more effectively.
ETHOS is committed to building this community of practice and its registered clinicians who work as Clinical Safety Officers are exploring ways to support clinical teams with simple, easy to use tools that would maximise competence and confidence in digital patient safety.
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