The Erasmus+ DISH project

The DISH European Reference Group
A chat with HOSPEEM

The DISH project aims at strengthening the innovation readiness and digital skills of health and social care staff in their everyday practice. To ensure that the very stakeholders for whom the DISH solutions are meant can provide feedback, the project has established a European Reference Group (ERG). Its members represent key stakeholders who are active and interested in the strengthening of  health and social care workers’ digital skills, among which healthcare employers, doctors, nurses, pharmaceutical students, and many more.

ERG Members provide feedback and expert opinion throughout the project implementation phase and make sure that the proposed solutions are tailored to the actual needs of the stakeholders they represent. They also support the project as awareness multipliers reaching out to additional healthcare providers, enterprise clusters and educational institutions.

To introduce you to the Members of the DISH European Reference Group, we will be sharing an interview we had with them on their strategy to improve the digital skills of the health workforce. Our next interview is with Sara Fasoli, Project and Policy Officer at HOSPEEM, the European Hospitals and Healthcare Employers’ Association.

Could you please introduce yourself and the organisation you represent?

My name is Sara Fasoli and I am Project and Policy Officer at the European Hospitals and Healthcare Employers’ Association (HOSPEEM). I am responsible for industrial and labour related issues. My specific area of work is Continuing Professional Development (CPD) and Life-Long-Learning (LLL); transferability and portability of skills; anticipation of skills, including digital skills; skills strategies for future labour markets; and inclusion of low-qualified workers and disadvantaged groups.

HOSPEEM represents the interests of national hospital employers’ organisations on workforce and industrial relations issues at European level. HOSPEEM members are health employer organisations, public or private, regional or national, with the power to negotiate on pay and terms and conditions of service with their respective Trade Union partners. Since 2006 we have been officially recognised by the European Commission as a Social Partner in the Hospital Sector Social Dialogue. Through the European Sectoral Social Dialogue, we ensure that employers’ views are taken into account by EU Institutions when launching policies that have a direct impact on management and labour relations in the hospital and health care sector at European and national level. HOSPEEM is increasingly being recognised as a source of expertise on healthcare and workforce-related issues in the European arena.

What are your organisation’s priorities as they relate to the health workforce’s ICT literacy?

As sectoral social partners we strive to ensure that healthcare professionals are involved in the design of new technologies to guarantee their correct use. Digitalisation in fact, if properly designed and implemented, can support the reform of health systems and their transition to new care models, centred on people’s need and enable a shift from a hospital-centred system to a more community-based and integrated care structure. ICT literacy should be included in both medical students’ curricula and in continuous adult education to prepare the healthcare workforce facing continuous changes in the sector. A correct use of these technologies is also deemed to ensure the safety of patients and the quality of care delivery.

What is your organisation’s strategy for implementing or supporting solutions to improve the health workforce’s digital and innovation skills?

HOSPEEM is a platform in which Members across Europe exchange on best practices and support each other in developing solutions to improve their respective health workforce’s digital and innovation skills. Over the years, HOSPEEM and its Members developed spaces for discussion and case studies sharing, also in the framework of projects on Recruitment and Retention of healthcare staff, specifically focused on continuous training. The project served to collect, discuss and evaluate social partner-based initiatives and policy measures on a range of aspects linked to facilitating access to skills’ development and guaranteeing quality services supportive of patient safety and provided by a workforce fit for practice.

HOSPEM projects’ activities have built on the 2016 HOSPEEM-EPSU Declaration on Continuing Professional Development (CPD) and Life-Long Learning (LLL) for All Health Workers in the EU, which represents HOSPEEM main policy-guide when referring to skills and training programmes. The Declaration stresses how CPD/LLL should begin with the focus of improving patient safety and quality of care and it states that a well-trained and well-equipped health workforce is crucial to face the increased use of new technologies. Furthermore, HOSPEEM has been developing and constantly updating a dedicated HOSPEEM webpage, collecting materials and best practices from its Members on CPD and LLL, including a specific section on CPD related to the digitalisation of health care. The topics of digital readiness is also one of the main working themes of the HOSPEEM joint work with the EU TUs in the framework of the European Sectoral Social Dialogue Committee.

How do you think that your involvement in the DISH European Reference Group can support your organisation’s strategy?

HOSPEEM involvement in the DISH ERG will certainly support our Association in having an additional space where to share good practice examples an potentially develop new partnerships. We believe that all the key health and employment stakeholders, from local, regional to national authorities, academia, research institutes, and every EU citizen, both as patient and healthcare professional, should be involved when discussing and addressing the issues related to the digitalisation of healthcare systems. In this process, we need to ensure a multi-dimensional and multi-disciplinary approach to ICT literacy, breaking out the silos and reaching the most under-represented and vulnerable groups to create a genuine community of practice.