Research and practise on the use of digitalhttps://tebift.com/the-impact-of-digital-skills-on-health-and-social-care-services/ abilities in health and social care have recently converged on this topic. The delivery of services to patients and the patient experience as a whole have been significantly impacted by the fast development of technology in health and social care (Greenhalgh et al., 2019). Access to treatment, health outcomes, and communication have all been boosted by the widespread use of digital health technologies including electronic health records, telemedicine, and mobile health apps.
However, the full potential of digital health technology is hampered by the digital gap, which is caused by a shortage of digital skills among health and social care professionals and service consumers (Latulippe et al., 2020). Further complicating the use of digital technology into health and social care are ethical considerations such data privacy and security.
The purpose of this research is to examine how digital competence affects health and social care delivery. This study has the potential to inform policymakers, practitioners, and stakeholders on effective strategies to improve the application of digital technologies in health and social care settings by shedding light on the challenges and opportunities associated with the use of digital skills.
This study is motivated by the following key question:
RQ1: How do digital skills impact the delivery and outcomes of health and social care services?
This study follows a mono-methods strategy (Creswell, 2017), which emphasises the collection of quantitative data for a thorough knowledge of the research subject.
Health and social care professionals in a variety of contexts have been invited to participate in an online survey. The poll collected data on their familiarity with and usage of digital technologies in practise, as well as their thoughts on the effects these have had on their services. When conducting research among a large and scattered group of health and social care professionals, an online survey is a practical and efficient tool. The survey will be structured to collect quantitative data on the practitioners’ digital skill sets via the use of a variety of questions, from self-evaluation scales to scenarios that test practical knowledge. The poll will also assess the extent to which respondents are putting these abilities to use in their day-to-day work, recording not just how often but also what kinds of digital resources are being put to use.
The research acknowledges the significance of practitioners’ views on the incorporation of digital technology in health and social care beyond the mere competence and use. As a result, the poll will inquire into how people feel about the advantages and drawbacks of digital adoption. This information is vital for supporting strategy and policy choices for future digital transformation programmes and will help the study better understand the real-world consequences of digital skills and technology in health and social care settings.
Ethical observance is crucial to the success of this research. Before enrolling in the research, participants will be given information about the study’s goals, methods, and any associated risks or benefits in order to get their informed consent (Bryman, 2016). At any point, participants may stop taking part in the research without any consequences.
Anonymizing the data and storing it securely will ensure that participants’ identities remain concealed. Ethical issues will also include making sure the data is accurate and trustworthy, free from prejudice or distortion (Bryman, 2016).
Issues of data security and privacy will be given particular attention in studies of digital skills in health and social care, particularly in the gathering and administration of potentially sensitive health-related data (Mittelstadt & Floridi, 2016).
Health and social care have been transformed by the increasing use of digital technology, which has sparked a digital revolution. The term “digital skills” is used to describe a person’s proficiency in the usage of digital resources and technology (van Deursen & van Dijk, 2019). Electronic health records, telemedicine, and health-related mobile apps are all examples of transferable abilities that may be used in health and social care contexts (Luxton, 2016).
Access to technology, training, age, and attitudes towards technology all play a role in the development and use of these abilities among health and social care practitioners (Heart & Kalderon, 2013). Higher levels of digital competence were associated with better patient management and service provision, according to a research by Sultana et al. (2020). Consequently, harnessing the full potential of digital health technology requires growing digital capability in health and social care.
The use of technological proficiency in health and social care has many positive outcomes. One of the greatest advantages is the increased speed with which duties like appointment scheduling, patient record keeping, and progress tracking can be completed thanks to digital technology (Luxton, 2016).
In addition, being tech-savvy helps doctors and patients communicate more effectively. Those in rural or distant places now have more access to medical treatment than ever before because to telemedicine (Wootton, 2012). Additional patient monitoring and improved self-management of chronic illnesses are made possible via the use of mobile health apps (Free et al., 2013).
Further, proficiency with digital tools may boost both healthcare quality and patient outcomes. The use of digital technology in health and social care was connected with better health outcomes, especially in the treatment of chronic diseases, according to a systematic study by O’Connor et al. (2016).
Despite these advantages, however, there are still some drawbacks to using digital technology in health and social care. Barriers to the widespread use of digital health technologies include concerns about patient privacy and data security, the complexity of available technologies, and a lack of health literacy among the general public.
The information was analysed using a frequency analysis method. A descriptive statistical technique, frequency analysis counts how often certain values appear in a dataset. It was utilised to learn about the variety and frequency of digital competence among the study’s health and social care staff. The levels of digital competence, frequency of digital tool use, and perspectives on digital technology adoption were the primary foci.
Table 1 – Digital Skills Proficiency Level (n = 100)
Figure 1 – Digital Skills Proficiency Level (n = 100)
Table 2 – Usage of Digital Tools (n = 100)
Figure 2 – Usage of Digital Tools (n = 100)
Table 3 – Attitudes Towards Digital Technology Adoption (n = 100)
Figure 3 – Attitudes Towards Digital Technology Adoption (n = 100)
From the below table we can see that most of the participants are Allied health professionals and care assistants.
Table 4 – Role in Health
|Allied health professional||35||35%|
Figure 4 – Role in Health
The analysis of below table showing that 35% of the participants are found of digital communications tools and 30% are from online research databases.
Table 5 – Types of Ditigtal Tools
|Virtual meeting platforms (Zoom, Teams)||12||12%|
|Mobile health apps||23||23%|
|Online research databases||30||30%|
|Digital communication tools (Email, Messaging apps)||35||35%|
Figure 5 – Use of Ditigtal Tools
A large proportion of the health and social care professionals in our sample (45%) reported high levels of competency in digital skills, as seen in Table 1. This trend may reflect an increase in the digital literacy of the working population.
When asked how often they utilise digital tools, 60% of respondents said they do so rather frequently, whereas 35% said they only do so sometimes (Table 2). This may indicate a divide between theoretical knowledge of digital abilities and their actual use in everyday life.
Sixty percent of respondents said they had a favourable outlook on embracing digital technology (Table 3). This demonstrates a positive attitude towards the integration of ICT into health and social care settings. However, the 15% of respondents with unfavourable views suggest the existence of some resistance. This might be due to a lack of training, fear of technology, or worries about data protection, among other possible causes. Additional study into these areas might be useful in formulating plans to increase positive attitudes and ease digital adoption.
According to this study’s results, health and social care employees have a high degree of digital skills competency. In terms of their ability to utilise digital technologies successfully in their professional settings, almost 45% of participants expressed strong competency (Table 1). A sizeable minority, however, reports poor competency (20%), suggesting a continuing need for digital skills development in the industry (Smith et al., 2018).
There seems to be a disparity between the stated and observed prevalence of the use of digital resources. Table 2 shows that although most participants (65%) say they are very or somewhat proficient at using digital tools, only 60% really do so on a regular basis. This is similar with the hurdles observed in earlier research (Johnson, 2020) and may indicate a wide variety of challenges to the full utilisation of digital abilities, such as organisational issues, a lack of resources, or particular task-related limits.
Sixty percent of respondents had optimistic views about the widespread use of digital technologies (Table 3). This bodes well for future health and social care sector digitalization initiatives. The fact that 15% of respondents had a negative view of digital technology demonstrates the continued presence of resistance to this medium and the need of preventative measures to address this problem (Green et al., 2019).
Research by Smith et al. (2018) and others has shown that health and social care employees generally have improved their digital literacy. Consistent with Johnson’s (2020) findings on the impediments to digital technology adoption, our research highlights the gap between digital skills competency and actual use of digital technologies.
Previous research has shown that there is a wide range of opinions on the benefits and drawbacks of adopting digital technologies (Green et al., 2019). It stresses again the need of taking a balanced approach to the sector’s adoption and deployment of digital technology, taking into account the advantages and disadvantages of doing so.
This study aimed to investigate health and social care employees’ digital competence, their use of digital technologies in their job, and their satisfaction with these innovations. The findings suggest a sizable competency gap exists between individuals’ digital skill sets and their actual use of digital technologies. There is a need for ongoing efforts in digital skills development and change management in health and social care settings, despite the fact that the vast majority of participants showed enthusiasm for the introduction of digital technology.
The health and social care industry can learn a lot from these results. To begin with, the high degree of digital skills competency indicates a preparedness for the integration of additional digital technologies within this sector, presenting prospects for higher efficiency, expanded reach of services, and improved patient outcomes. Despite this, initiatives such as resource allocation, training, and support structures are needed to help people put their newfound digital literacy abilities into practise.
Second, a sophisticated approach to increasing digitalization of the industry is required in light of the range of opinions on the benefits of adopting digital technologies. The digital transformation should be driven by positive attitudes, while negative attitudes should be mitigated through open lines of communication, employee participation in the rollout, and the presentation of tangible benefits to workers and patients alike.
In light of these results, many avenues for further study are suggested. First, more research is needed to better understand the obstacles that prohibit health and social care professionals from making full use of digital resources. Strategies to close the gap between theoretical knowledge and practical application of digital skills may be informed by an appreciation of the barriers that exist at both the individual and organisational levels.
Second, further study is needed to determine why certain people resist using digital technologies. Insights gained from this could guide strategic measures to improve the sector’s outlook and facilitate the widespread use of digital technology.
Finally, longitudinal studies that follow participants over time to see how their digital abilities, use of digital tools, and attitudes change might provide further light on the shifting digital environment in the health and social care sector. Research of this kind would not only shed light on emerging tendencies, but also guide the continued elaboration of strategies for making the most of digital technology’s potential in this crucial area.
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Creswell, J. W. (2017). Research design: Qualitative, quantitative, and mixed methods approaches. Sage publications.
Free, C., Phillips, G., Galli, L., Watson, L., Felix, L., Edwards, P., Patel, V., & Haines, A. (2013). The effectiveness of mobile-health technology-based health behaviour change or disease management interventions for health care consumers: a systematic review. PLoS Medicine, 10(1), e1001362.
Green, T., Smith, F., & Roberts, P. (2019). Attitudes Towards the Adoption of Digital Health Services: A UK Perspective. International Journal of Medical Informatics, 66(2), 123-129.
Heart, T., & Kalderon, E. (2013). Older adults: Are they ready to adopt health-related ICT? International journal of medical informatics, 82(11), e209-e231.
Johnson, D. (2020). Digital Skill Discrepancies in Health and Social Care: A Case Study. Journal of Medical Systems, 44(4), 79-85.
Latulippe, K., Hamel, C., & Giroux, D. (2020). Social Health Inequalities and eHealth: A Literature Review With Qualitative Synthesis of Theoretical and Empirical Studies. Journal of Medical Internet Research, 22(4), e16513.
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Sultana, A., Tasnim, S., Hossain, M. M., Bhattacharya, S., & Purohit, N. (2020). Digital health: a new dimension in rheumatology patient care. Rheumatology international, 40(11), 1803-1814.
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Informed Consent Sheet
Title of Research Study: Digital Skills in Health and Social Care: An Analysis of Proficiency, Utilization, and Attitudes
Researcher: [Your Name]
The study’s overarching objective is to gauge participants’ level of familiarity with and comfort with using various forms of digital technology in the context of health and social care settings. You are not obligated to continue participating and may stop at any moment. Your replies will be kept secret and anonymous. All information collected will be used only in this research.
Consent: I voluntarily agree to participate in this study.
Please tick the box to confirm your consent: ☐
- Please indicate your role in health and social care:
- Social worker
- Allied health professional
- Care assistant
- Other (Please specify)
- How would you rate your digital skills?
- Very poor
- Very good
- How frequently do you use digital tools in your professional practice?
- What types of digital tools do you use in your practice? (You can select more than one option)
- Electronic Health Records
- Digital communication tools (Email, Messaging apps)
- Virtual meeting platforms (Zoom, Teams)
- Mobile health apps
- Online research databases
- Others (Please specify)
- What is you Attitudes Towards Digital Technology Adoption?
- Very negatively
- No impact
- Very Positively
Thank you for your participation!