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Professional registration for digital health leaders marks a milestone in healthcare tech

Updated: Apr 22





Professional registration for digital health leaders marks a milestone in healthcare tech In a transformative development, the Digital Health Leadership Programme (DHLP) is set to change the landscape of healthcare technology professionals by offering professional registration, akin to established healthcare roles, through collaboration with the Federation for Informatics Professionals in Health and Social Care (FEDIP).


The DHLP is a pioneering initiative aimed at equipping individuals with essential digital health leadership skills, commissioned by the NHS Digital Academy and delivered by the Institute of Global Health Innovation at Imperial College London in partnership with HDR UK and Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust.


Completing this programme now grants students the eligibility to apply for professional registration with FEDIP through any of the FEDIP professional bodies.


This accreditation aims to establish a structured framework similar to other esteemed professions such as doctors, accountants, and nurses.


At an event today celebrating the graduation of the fifth cohort of DHLP students, Andrew Griffiths, CEO, FEDIP, announced that the Postgraduate Diploma in Digital Health Leadership has been aligned with the FEDIP professional standards framework, providing an opportunity for DHLP alumni to register at the level of Advanced Practitioner.



Professional Recognition


This established link from DHLP to FEDIP is important as it means all those digital change leaders completing the programme, whether they be from established healthcare professional backgrounds or not, can benefit from the structured professional recognition, esteem and accountability that FEDIP can bring. It will also help ensure recognition of their own and the system’s investment in continuous professional development through completing this important digital health programme.


Andrew Griffiths, CEO, FEDIP, said: “We're delighted that the Postgraduate Diploma in Digital Health Leadership has been evaluated against our professional standards and has demonstrated that it provides a means of equipping digital leaders with the skills and competencies that are required to ensure digital services are developed and maintained to the highest standards for the safety of the public. We need leaders that are professional and can demonstrate that by being assured of their own continued development by undertaking education that meets those standards”.

Professor the Lord Ara Darzi, Co-Director, Institute of Global Health Innovation, said: “I welcome the announcement of the new professional registration of our digital health leaders through the Federation for Informatics Professionals, which recognises the importance and rigour of their profession.”

The importance of a recognised professional structure such as the one this relationship with FEDIP brings is paramount to helping ensure all change leaders across health and care continue to work with accountability, for example when designing and implementing digital solutions.


Advocates for this structural change have emphasised the importance of ongoing testing and validation to ensure professionals remain updated with the latest practices and maintain high standards of competency and this announcement very much supports this direction.


Juliette van Wessem, Programme Lead, Institute of Global Health Innovation, said: “We see the established professions such as doctors, nurses, or accountants enjoying trust, investment in their careers and respect that is linked to the value added to their role due to professional registration. I am glad to see this step to professionalise the careers of all digital health leaders who complete the Digital Health Leadership Programme.”

The move towards this professional registration through the DHLP with FEDIP has garnered support from six key professional bodies who sit under the FEDIP umbrella, including AphA (Association of Professional Healthcare Analysts), BCS (The Chartered Institute for IT), CHIME (The College of Healthcare Information Management Executives), CILIP (The Library and Information Association), IHRIM (The Institute of Health Records & Information Management) and Socitm (Society for innovation, technology and modernisation). This signals a collaborative effort to support dedicated and overarching professional standards for health and care informaticians (those leading and supporting digital change) within the UK.


Ruth Holland, Deputy CIO, of Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust said: "The recognition and professional registration for digital and data health experts who participate in the Digital Health Leadership Programme marks a critical milestone. It not only ensures accountability but also signifies the commitment to maintaining high standards of practice in the rapidly evolving landscape of healthcare technology." 


A crucial piece of the puzzle in NHS digital transformation

The NHS Workforce Plan outlines ambitious targets to support services and staff running these services across the NHS and implementation of the ambitions is well underway. Healthcare digitisation is one way to support the workforce and services and the use of technology in healthcare can help improve productivity; support safe and effective care; as well as empower patients. We therefore need to equip the NHS workforce to deliver the change and the Digital Health Leadership Programme is a crucial piece of this digital transformation puzzle.


About the Digital Health Leadership Programme (DHLP)

The DHLP forms an important part of the NHS Digital Academy (a NHS England service) portfolio of digital education products. The programme was established in 2017 following a Secretary of State commitment on the back of the Wachter Review, which set out the need to develop and invest in the capability and capacity of digital change leaders.


Commissioned by the NHS Digital Academy, the DHLP is delivered by the Institute of Global Health Innovation at Imperial College London in partnership with HDR UK and Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust.


The Digital Health Leadership Programme has trained – and is currently training – over 600 change leaders from across the health and care workforce. These are people who are working in roles where they are required to drive and implement practical digital transformational change within their organisation and/or the wider system.

A study in BMJ Open which evaluated the impact of the DHLP found “The development of a network of digital leaders has facilitated communication between organisations and

improved the efficiency of the national digital infrastructure.” It concluded that the programme helps trusts and other health and care organisations to successfully adopt digital solutions, as well as fostering shared organisational learning.


In 2023 a new “innovation in healthcare” module was incorporated into the programme, designed by Professor the Lord Ara Darzi. This module considers principles of innovation in healthcare, how innovation comes about, the role of different sectors and the health policy implications of future innovation.”


Malcolm Gandy, Executive Director of Mersey & West Lancashire Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust, and DHLP alumni, said: “Undertaking the Digital Healthcare Leadership Programme has been quite a transformative experience. The relevance of the course content to my role has been profound, equipping me with advanced knowledge and skills that have directly enhanced my effectiveness. I have found the programme not just to be about understanding digital healthcare in a broader sense; I also feel it's about cultivating leaders capable of driving change and innovation in a complex healthcare environment. I feel privileged to be part of this digital healthcare leadership journey and would certainly recommend it to current and future leaders."

The recruitment window for the latest upcoming cohort, Cohort 7, is now open and will be until 25 April 2024.





About the Institute of Global Health Innovation

The Institute of Global Health Innovation (IGHI) is one of Imperial College London’s Global Challenge Institutes. IGHI aims to improve healthcare around the world through evidence-based Innovation. IGHI’s Co-Directors are Professor the Lord Ara Darzi and Professor Sir David Nabarro.

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