Digital skills – health informatics competency standards, frameworks and tools for healthcare professionals

Version 1.2, 26 May 2023.

This guidance is part of the Education and training section of the Good practice guidelines for GP electronic patient records.

Digital technology is now an essential part of healthcare. It is important for our primary care workforce to be competent, and feel confident, in its use.

Health Education England has developed tools for the self-assessment of digital literacy (IT) skills, as well as learning resources.

Health Education England’s IT Skills Pathway

Training in generic IT skills, business administration systems and office systems is the responsibility of the practice.  Practices shall ensure that all end users are trained to a  minimum entry level standard as per the NHS IT Skills Pathway including use of relevant operating systems and office productivity software.

The IT Skills Pathway is provided by Health Education England as part of the Digital Learning Solutions programme.  It provides e-learning courses to improve digital skills as well as training in the Microsoft Office suite of programmes. 

Each course includes a skills assessment that allows a user to identify the gaps in their knowledge, and to tailor the course accordingly.  There is an inbuilt tracking system that allows users to record their progress and print off a certificate of completion if needed.  Employers can also use the system to track staff progress.

Content includes essential IT and digital skills through to expert user of Microsoft Office applications.

Digital literacy self-assessment tool

A digital literacy self-assessment tool has been developed by Health Education England. On completion of a self-assessment questionnaire, learners will be directed to resources to help them develop specific skills.

Faculty of Clinical Informatics framework

The Faculty of Clinical Informatics is a multi-disciplinary professional body for all individuals qualified in health and social care working, or aspiring to work, as informaticians across the UK. 

One of the early aims of the Faculty was to develop a competency framework outlining the knowledge and skills required for individuals to be recognised as clinical informaticians.

This framework can also be used to:

  • develop accredited courses and qualifications
  • support employers to develop job descriptions and person specifications
  • support professional appraisal and revalidation
  • standardise undergraduate and postgraduate education to national and international standards

The Federation for Informatics Professionals standards

The Federation for Informatics Professionals (FEDIP) has developed a set of professional standards at five levels for specialist staff:

  • associate practitioner
  • practitioner
  • senior practitioner
  • advanced practitioner
  • leading practitioner

These standards are used to accredit individuals who are then placed on the public register of professionals.

NHS Digital Academy

The NHS Digital Academy was created to drive digital learning and development, increase the digital skills of the NHS workforce, and help establish digital leaders to drive NHS transformation.

Other informatics professional body standards

Professional bodies offering accreditation based on professional standards and professional and academic qualifications are discussed in a separate article. 

They include:

The curricula of undergraduate clinical professional bodies also include aspects of informatics.  One role for the Faculty of Clinical Informatics is to influence the development of curricula to better reflect the move towards greater integration of informatics in the delivery of health and care services.

There are other frameworks that are not specific to the NHS which can be used or adapted if required, for example Skills for the information age.