2 July 2021
The advent of the Pulse platform is both valuable and timely. We have all become familiar with the “you’re on mute” and “sorry I was on another call” language of virtual MS Teams and Zoom meetings and we have learned that whilst there is sometimes no real substitute for the informality and three-dimensions of a face to face conversation, virtual relationships can be maintained and enhanced quite adequately when geography and mobility is an issue. The Pulse platform builds on this learning, creating a low cost, high impact technological ‘toolkit’ for sharing, peer-to-peer learning, support and frugal innovation. The future of global health security and readiness for any future threat like C19 is dependent on the rapid transfer of information and agility of response between health professionals across all nations. Pulse will build these relationships ensuring that health professionals in all countries become agents for security and health systems strengthening more generally. Taking the example of vaccination and the WHO COVAX programme, Pulse can help upskill workers in LMICs to develop and deliver vaccine programmes to the poorest in our global society.
In our post-COVID world, digital technologies present unprecedented opportunities for health workers to learn, access support and innovate. Whilst we have experienced physical isolation, digital technology has presented opportunities to learn, build social and professional connection. Smartphones deliver access to this new world in the pocket of health workers. Bridging the use of digital technology as not just a social and recreational tool but as a source of professional learning, innovation and leadership is key to the success of any health worker use of digital technology. The potential to provide an equity of access to information to all health workers is unparalleled. By connecting digitally, public health and global health goals become attainable with the potential in sharing evidence, developing research and collaborating to innovate.
Virtual volunteering is not a new thing, it has often formed part of the ways of working within a partnership between a UK and overseas partner; providing ongoing support and mentorship once a period of physical partnership has ended, or between gaps in physical volunteers being on the ground. Given the growing evidence base of the benefits to all involved by participating in global learning experiences, it feels important to respond/adapt to the travel restrictions resulting from the pandemic, by co-developing specific virtual volunteering opportunities with overseas partners. As we do this, we are all learning together about what works and what challenges need to be overcome. Some of the challenges to virtual working include access to good quality internet, and working across different time-zones; and having a digital platform can help overcome both of these challenges. We are learning that working with others virtually requires some adaptation from working with others physically, and so the skills and behaviours developed through working virtually with overseas partners is immediately transferrable to the NHS and vice versa.
Necessity is the mother and father of invention. Workers in challenging healthcare environments are constantly developing solutions, very often at low costs, to complex clinical issues. These solutions could have a major benefit to those that we treat in the UK. However, there are limited pathways which facilitate this ‘frugal learning’ to front line clinicians in the NHS so many of these innovations remain used only in their place of origin. Pulse provides a platform for sharing these inventions, allowing clinicians in resource-poor settings to share their experiences and new ideas. The platform provides an opportunity to sense check these inventions against our current practice in the NHS and develop research groups to expose these innovations to standards of peer-reviewed research which would facilitate their use in NHS clinical practice.
HEE are launching our ‘TALENT Groups’ this month, TALENT stands for Technically Assisted Learning and Education for Nursing and Midwifery Teams. They are virtual communities for nurses and midwives to come together to learn about leadership and they will be hosted on the Pulse platform! It is no surprise then that I would like to see lots of discussion about leadership on the platform and I hope to see some empowering conversations and sharing of ideas which support health care professionals to lead on the changes which they want to see.