The time is now: Fujitsu innovates ways to bridge the digital skills gap in healthcare
Written by Ricky Patel
As new technologies arise and the world becomes more digital, to ensure service providers across all industries are able to continue working efficiently, workforces will need to be equipped with the right tools and know how to use them.
However, we’re currently experiencing a digital skills shortage. A report by the UK government shows that at least 82% of advertised openings require some level of digital skills, but according to Deloitte, only 12% of executives believe that graduates have enough of those sorts of skills.
These figures are particularly concerning for the healthcare sector.
The fact that more people are living longer – with more long-term conditions – will inevitably cause an increase in the demand for healthcare. And the pandemic has only heightened this, creating additional workloads and an overall shortage of medical professionals.
It’s clear technology and digital skills in healthcare have never been more important.
That’s why I’m proud to share how Fujitsu’s helping bridge the gap between academia and healthcare and how we’re supporting the sector as it continues on its digital journey.
Lack of familiarity
For healthcare workers, this skills gap leads to a lack of familiarity with technology, which ultimately acts as a barrier to patient care and transformation from a digital perspective.
For instance, many healthcare workers still have to process their admin tasks manually. The burden of this work – especially when there’s a patient backlog – can have a detrimental impact on an individual’s mental health, focus, and can ultimately lead to burnout. There is no doubt this is contributing to the staff shortages we’re currently seeing within the sector.
And as staff shortages worsen, pressure on the employees that remain increases, which can end up impacting patient care.
To remedy this, we want to empower young people in the healthcare sector with the digital skills and technical knowledge they need to help make a real impact in the industry.
So, how do we do this?
Pioneering an innovation research hub
In 2019, The Topol Review: Preparing the healthcare workforce to deliver the digital future, was launched on behalf of the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care.
The independent report highlighted that:
- Within the next 20 years, 90% of all jobs within the NHS will require digital skills
- Creating a culture of learning and innovation is going to be critical
- Within 5 years we’ll need to make sure the education and training for future employees equips them to achieve their full potential
- Delivering a technological future requires an investment in people (building of digital skills), leadership and technology which will need to be supported by long-term investment
On top of this, the report revealed that it’s the NHS’ uneven data quality, gaps in information governance and overall lack of expertise that remain major barriers to the sector’s technology adoption.
The outcomes of the report, together with independent research from talking to many healthcare institutions about the challenges they face, informed our strategy to spearhead an innovation research hub programme within healthcare. Acting now to bridge the inequalities in healthcare and education through better access to technology and the development of digital skills has never been more pressing.
I believe our programme will make a real difference to the healthcare sector and overall patient wellbeing. But how we go about achieving the goals set out by the report in the next couple of years is crucial. Taking some inspiration from our highly successful Education Ambassador Program, the idea behind our pioneering innovation research hub programme is to facilitate a collaborative workspace for co-creation within academia and healthcare.
My vision for this programme is to encourage that familiarity with technology and provide an all-encompassing supportive culture. I hope that by encouraging students to experiment with technology they can push the boundaries of learning, and further their curiosity. The hub will be a safe space where students can reflect on the outcomes they’re delivering, new ideas can be explored, and innovation can be nurtured.
Our future is in people and technology. And by empowering our healthcare professionals with the right digital skills today, we can begin to build a trailblazing healthcare sector for tomorrow.
If we can use education to overcome the digital skills gap by introducing a new healthcare innovation research hub programme, then we can assist in delivering enhanced quality patient care more efficiently.
Here are some examples of the outcomes that can arise when healthcare solutions are informed by technology education:
Fugaku, the world’s fastest supercomputer system, developed by Riken and Fujitsu is assisting with COVID-19 research and development. Which academia is currently using its computational power technology to explore new drugs solutions for COVID-19.
A case study where a partnership between Fujitsu and London Design and Engineering Technical College helped in the design and manufacturing of around 300 units of test tube holders for the London borough of Newham. This took place when there was a shortage of test tube racks that was preventing the delivery of COVID-19 rapid testing to the community. This example demonstrates that when education and technology collide, they can produce outcomes that address existing, real-life challenges.
Another case study includes the partnership with the Institute of Medical Science in Tokyo. An AI solution was developed to improve the efficiency of treatment planning in cancer, reducing the time spent from two weeks to a single day. This is not only a powerful innovation for healthcare professionals but for every single individual and family affected by cancer.
I’m thrilled about the forthcoming launch of the innovation research hub programme and looking forward to demonstrating that the use of technology in healthcare will not only benefit staff but drive more quality patient care.