Four digital skills that healthcare professionals need to brush up on for the workplace of tomorrow

By Matt Smith, Channel Development Manager at PFU EMEA

It’s said that by 2030, up to 85 million jobs [1] will go unfilled globally, generating an US$8.5 trillion gap between possible and realised annual revenue. One of the main reasons for so many jobs going unstaffed is people not possessing or being trained on the technical or digital skills for their job.

According to the US-based National Skills Coalition [2], the vast majority of jobs now require some type of digital skills. The notion of a ‘digital skill’ can have a different meaning depending on the industry, person and organisation, and with professions such as those in private healthcare, where the primary goal is to look after a patient’s physical or mental health, it’s likely a skill that doesn’t come naturally to the role. For example, cybersecurity training is likely to be very low down on the list of essential training for a doctor or nurse – but it’s a crucial aspect of the job, given how many touchpoints healthcare professionals have with IT systems. This, and other digital skills, will enable those in the industry to improve existing processes or do their primary job even better.

Besides, part of patient care is having accountability and responsibility over the likes of their data and paperwork, all of which needs to be handled with caution and care. So, with this in mind, in what areas does the healthcare workforce need to upskill to be able to prepare for the future?

Matt Smith


According to a Quocirca report [3], only 42% of organisations are moving to a less-paper environment, meaning that paper will remain part of daily businesses processes for most. For healthcare establishments, the handling and storing of paper documents raises even more concern, given that patient data and confidential health details are likely to be involved.

While digitisation is not necessarily a brand-new process in the workplace, it’s set to become even more prominent, as organisations strive to further cut business costs amid the turbulent economic climate. Finding solutions that bridge the gap between productivity and cost will become a strategic priority – software tools that can quickly scan information before capturing and transferring data directly into online systems is a great example of a quick and easy solution that also yields numerous business benefits, such as ease of information sharing and cost efficiencies.

Data security

Part of being great at care is keeping patients’ confidential details safe, and with data breaches becoming more frequent and cybercriminals operating in a more sophisticated way than ever, it is vital that employees working in healthcare have a level of understanding and awareness when it comes to cybersecurity. Identifying a potential phishing email, being aware of protocols around Wi-Fi connections and generally being mindful of how patient data is being used, at all times, are all skills that every healthcare professional should be tuned up on. And it’s not just online data that healthcare professionals need to be aware of, paper documents also present a security risk, especially when they are not stored properly or there isn’t a process in place for destroying physical copies. Ensuring that workplaces have digital copies eliminates the potential risk of valuable information being lost, for example, so educating staff on these protocols is a must.

Accelerating the use of Artificial Intelligence and machine learning

AI is becoming one of the most prominent technologies, with major breakthroughs already happening this year with the likes of ChatGPT kicking off the AI chatbot race. All industries can benefit from AI in one sense or another; getting ahead of the trend and understanding how it can have an impact on the industry and where it can streamline workflows holds huge advantage for the future. Simple algorithms that can comb through data and pull insights at the touch of a button are just one of the many aspects of AI that can plug the gaps in productivity. Many AI tools and processes don’t necessarily need a technical or IT expert to be able to use them on a day-to-day basis; the skill lies in working out how, where and when these tools can be implemented into existing systems and processes. Much like cybersecurity, it’s not necessarily about having a grasp on the technology itself but having understanding and accessibility at the appropriate levels.

Adopting the right knowledge-sharing applications Seamless knowledge-sharing is an organisational fundamental in today’s workplace, especially now that most businesses are adopting a hybrid or digital workplace, meaning workforces are dispersed. Not only does it allow for better, faster productivity and a more connected organisation, but communication streams and knowledge-sharing are clear and inclusive, which can also be key to retaining talent in the business. Digital scanning of documents can enable better knowledge-sharing among industries, according to Quocirca [3], because it immediately pulls data and stores it in the right places so that everyone can access it anytime.

Developing these digital skills is certainly not an overnight process, whether in the healthcare industry or not, and it will take several stages of learning and education before appropriate and relevant staff members feel comfortable and confident in the skills that will enhance their role. To be able to continue to offer the best patient care, digital skills must be not just considered, but prioritised.