Academy is an interactive, free-to-access, online education platform, developed by clinical leaders in the Diabetes Technology Network with Glooko, to improve access to technology across the country and training for healthcare professionals. It provides high quality, CPD-approved and NHS England-endorsed training on diabetes technologies. It aims to reduce inequality in access to technology by providing education in bite-sized chunks that individuals can undertake at their own pace. Primarily aimed at specialist teams, it is also also available to community and primary care teams. The platform contains 58 topics with 368 micro-learning videos spanning a total of 27 hours of content.
Studies demonstrated the value of diabetes technology in supporting people with diabetes to achieve target glucose levels. However, National Pump Audit data shows large variation in access across the country, and the 2020 NHSE GIRFT report identified a deficit of appropriately-trained healthcare professionals (HCPs) as a potential barrier. A lack of appropriate educational resources, and time for staff to undertake training, were acknowledged problems. There was a need to develop high quality, easily accessible and accredited educational material. Following recent initiatives from NHSE, including roll-out of Flash glucose monitoring and Continuous Glucose Monitoring in pregnant women with type 1 diabetes, NHSE approached Diabetes Technology Network - UK to develop an accredited training programme for clinicians and patients and to support uptake and appropriate use of diabetes technologies for type 1 diabetes. The Academy programme is primarily aimed at specialist teams, but is also accessible to community and primary care teams. The platform contains 58 topics with 368 micro-learning videos spanning 27 hours of content in seven CPD-accredited courses certified by ABCD. Learners can acquire knowledge at their own pace in their own time. What was innovative was the collaboration between HCPs, industry and people with diabetes to use digital technology to deliver education at scale, in a way that was device agnostic and incorporated sophisticated reporting functionality, to measure the uptake on a regional level and potentially link this with outcomes for people living with diabetes. A novel funding model allowed the project to be delivered free of cost to the NHS through industry sponsorship, while retaining editorial independence and lack of bias. Another unique aspect was that the same videos (without the micro-learning and assessments) were available free to people with diabetes via the Diabetes Technology Network website. This coordinated approach of providing the same education to HCPs and people with diabetes was challenging, but helped patients and HCPs to share knowledge.
Equality, Diversity and Variation
Access to technology is much lower in those from lower socioeconomic backgrounds and those from ethnic minorities. While this project focused on providing diabetes education to HCPs, the ultimate aim is to address equality of access to diabetes technology across the country. With better education of clinical teams, and education on diabetes technology for the wider group of clinicians who see people with diabetes, the hope is to reduce this variation. The course content ranges from the basics of managing multiple daily injections, and using data downloads to review glucose data, through consultation skills to complex interventions, such as the latest closed-loop therapies. Different modules target clinicians with different levels of training.
The key outcome of this project was the reach to relevant clinicians and uptake, in terms of numbers of courses taken and certificates gained. Based on the RCP UK 2019 census, there were 1,089 consultants and 451 trainees and TREND-UK’s 2019 survey identified 1,872 diabetes specialist nurses. Data suggest almost 20% of all HCPs working in diabetes and endocrinology have accessed this education platform. Within six months of launch, 588 HCPs had started 655 courses. Now, 384 courses have been completed, with 25,859 individual learning videos seen, equating to over 1,000 hours of content watched.
Dissemination and Sustainability
This project was national, with a view to providing equity of access to education on diabetes technology across the country. The agreement with Glooko and DigiBete allows content to be updated and adapted in response to changes in diabetes technology and feedback from users. Data on uptake of the education programme are posted on social media, which encourages further uptake. The data are reported to NHSE on a three-monthly basis so that areas of low education uptake can be identified and supported to increase uptake.
The high degree of uptake and content viewing provides a degree of feedback on the demand for such content and the quality of the content produced. Individual feedback includes: “Please can we make this mandatory for all trainees?” (Dr Reza, trainee from Newcastle); “Slick, professional and well elucidated. Good, varied range of topics. Easy to go through – and some good learning points for all – beyond the realm of technology.” (Prof Partha Kar from NHSE). At a talk about Academy at the annual DAFNE collaborative meeting, many of the nurses posted comments on the modules they had completed. This project brought together industry colleagues, NHSE, the Diabetes Technology Network and the diabetes specialist nurse network.
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