The Topol Review: Preparing the healthcare workforce to deliver the digital future.

Impact on library policy/practice: 

  • The review makes a strong assertion that effective knowledge management is essential for a digitally ready NHS, with a specific recommendation (OD5 p.70) that “NHS Boards take responsibility for effective knowledge management to enable staff to learn from experience (both success and failures) and accelerate the adoption of proven innovations.”
  • It makes clear that the adoption of digital healthcare technologies should be based on evidence, of both clinical and cost-effectiveness, and knowledge of new technologies needs to be spread throughout the NHS (p.20). Librarians are well-placed to help access the evidence-base, to encourage the development of the knowledge base (for example through support for research and writing for publication) and to help ensure knowledge is disseminated (OD6, p.68)
  • LKS staff are ideally placed to train, support and engage healthcare professionals in engaging with the technology (OD3, p.66, E6 and E8, p.78)
  • Knowledge management opportunities are abundant – the review specifies that an increase in knowledge specialist posts to support healthcare professionals is required (DM4/AIR5, p.49 and 57)
  • LKS can provide support via digital and healthliteracy/needs based targeted education and support upskilling of current workforce (OD3, p.66 and E6 and E8, p.78)
  • LKS are well positioned to link up with local community via GP surgeries and community events/local libraries/education to support both patient/public and healthcare professional education (P2, p.25 and HI1, p.25)
  • There’s an opportunity for LKS staff to be the champions and create the collaborative networks required to support workforce with lifelong learning/continuing professional development
  • A culture of learning is recommended as an educational recommendation to support a digitally enabled health system, something that LKS enhance in multiple ways across NHS Trusts (E1, p.74)
  • As training and educational programmes evolve to address digital technologies; to adequately support these programmes LKS may need to review and / or expand on their provision of resources covering the areas of genomics, artificial intelligence, robotics, and digital technologies. Or should see how they can facilitate access to such resources e.g. via inter library loans.

Source:  An independent report on behalf of the Secretary of State for health and Social Care

Link to review

Publication format:  PDF

Date of publication: February 2019

Summary of driver:

The Topol Review, is based around the following three principles which support the implementation of digital healthcare technologies across the NHS.

  • Patients should be suitably informed about health technologies, with particular  focus on vulnerable groups to ensure fair access
  • The healthcare workforce needs knowledge and guidance to evaluate new technologies
  • The adoption of technology should be used to give healthcare staff more time to care and interact directly with patients

Key features of driver: 

  • Patients need to be included as partners and informed about healthcare technologies, with a particular focus on vulnerable/marginalised groups to ensure equitable access
  • NHS is to invest and upskill existing workforce  
  • The healthcare workforce needs expertise and guidance to evaluate new technologies
  • The gift of time, adoption of new technologies should enable staff to spend more time to care
  • The review covers the implications of these changes for both healthcare professionals and patients. New technologies will bring stronger patient-clinical relationships as well as improved accuracy of diagnoses and treatment and the efficiency of care and workflows for the healthcare professional.
  • Although the workforce is changing, automation should improve efficiency but not replace human interaction
  • Emphasis on that to deliver this change, investment in people is as important as the investment in technology. NHS organisations are expected to develop learning environments in which the workforce is encouraged to learn continuously.
  • NHS Boards to take responsibility for effective knowledge management to support innovation and change
  • Core training and lifelong training
  • NHS IT will have to be updated to support the training resources and educational opportunities in digital healthcare technologies
  • Apps and wearables – patient becoming more involved with self-management

Primary audience: Healthcare workforce, national and local government, educational institutions

Related document: CILIP response to the Topol Review of Technology in the Healthcare Sector https://www.cilip.org.uk/page/TopolReview

Date last updated: February 2019

Due for review:  February 2020

Group member responsible: LK

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