The Erasmus+ DISH project

The DISH European Reference Group
A chat with the European Pharmaceutical Students’ Association (EPSA)

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 Jess McNamara, Vice President of European Affairs at the European Pharmaceutical Students’ Association (EPSA).

Could you please introduce yourself and the organisation you represent?

My name is Jess McNamara and I am a newly qualified pharmacist from Ireland. For the mandate 2020/2021, I am the Vice President of European Affairs at the European Pharmaceutical Students’ Association (EPSA), which represents over 100,000 pharmaceutical students and recent graduates across 37 European countries. EPSA strives to bring pharmacy, knowledge and students together while supporting students personally and professionally along their academic and professional career path.

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

The vision of EPSA is to represent, reach and engage every pharmaceutical student in Europe to collaborate on the development of the future of pharmacy and healthcare. Therefore, EPSA closely follows matters of high relevance to pharmaceutical students, the future of the profession and the possibilities for professional development. eHealth is an important topic for both pharmacists and pharmaceutical students, which has been made even more prominent during the Covid-19 pandemic. EPSA is monitoring the updates in this field, as health literacy must be continuously implemented in pharmacy curricula to provide future professionals with sufficient knowledge for their roles in healthcare.

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

EPSA’s strategy for implementing and supporting solutions to improve digital and innovation skills is to represent pharmaceutical students’ views on eHealth and Digitalisation. EPSA also encourages Member Associations to advocate for eHealth at the national level through knowledge transfer on EPSA’s Advocacy Platform. EPSA created a Position Paper from a survey report in 2017 on eHealth and Digitalisation, which concluded that pharmacy students are lacking in education on eHealth. By working with stakeholders and national Members, EPSA strives to encourage Faculties of Pharmacy to improve health literacy education, represent pharmaceutical students’ opinions on Digitalisation and encourage the uptake of eHealth coverage across Europe.

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

Involvement in the DISH European Reference Group can support EPSA’s strategy by including the students’ voice whilst improving the eHealth and digital skills of the healthcare workforce in Europe. Behavioural change and knowledge transfer starts at the beginning of the healthcare professionals career – at university level. Liaising within the DISH project will help to develop and implement eHealth solutions across a multitude of stakeholders and integrate pharmaceutical students into the process of strengthening the digital skills of healthcare professionals.