ACCESS Health Digital Academy: Developing “Peopleware”

Training a world class health informatics workforce for India

Recognizing the growing need for trained professionals in the digital health space, ACCESS Health Digital recently launched the ACCESS Health Digital Academy: DIGITAL HEALTH 101, which will work towards building capacity in this area.

The Academy focusses on transforming and enhancing HealthTech crossover skills in the current and future healthcare workforce by bringing technical institutes, management institutes, and medical colleges together under the same umbrella. Currently, the AHD Academy has partnered with the IIHMR University, IIHMR Delhi, Chitkara University, and Santosh University.

A growing interest in the partner institutes is being seen as having the potential to begin an industry-academia relationship where outgoing students can liaise with AHD to complete an internship program. This post-study practicum training is aimed to train and prepare the students for real-world complexities and problem-solving.

As part of this initiative, ACCESS Health Digital has published in the open source, a range of Webinar based material categorized under Basic, Specialist, Expert, and master’s level. Specific course-related content has been developed by the AHD team. Partner-Institutes are using these contents created by AHD in the areas of Digital Health, and related public health policies for delivering and teaching the courses. The training material pertains to NDHB, Healthcare Standards, Healthcare IT Systems design, Electronic Health Record (EHR), and ICT systems Infrastructure that help improve the quality and efficiency of healthcare delivery and health insurance.

The need for a digital health academy

As digital health becomes more prevalent, literacy in information and communication technologies and access to technology define the “digital determinants of health”. With the adoption of the resolution WHA66.24 by the World Health Assembly in 2013, the World Health Organization paved the way for massive digital transformation in the global health space. With the adoption and emergence of the National Digital Health Ecosystem [NDHE] in India, the stage is set for the world’s biggest healthcare overhaul.  The National digital health initiatives underscore the need to ground digital foundations within national strategies and highlights the need to work with different sectors and stakeholders together at all levels.

This has translated into the need for cross-over skilled workforce and professionals in the field of health information and technology. With a growing demand for digital healthcare professionals, having clinicians, nurses, and public health professionals skilled in bringing about healthcare digital transformation will be essential to any organization.

Capacity building interventions have taken a variety of forms including providing technical assistance, in-depth consultations, in-person training/coaching/mentoring sessions, Train-the-Trainer programs, online learning options such as webinars, and skills-based online courses. A holistic approach needs to be considered for capacity building while aiming for sustained excellence that will drive adoption and development.