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05 October 2020

Hallam building digital healthcare workforce as Covid-19 accelerates innovation

Sheffield Hallam University is launching a ground-breaking digital health degree to help meet the growing demand for Artificial Intelligence (AI) and data analysis experts in healthcare and improve progression for underrepresented groups, primarily women, into data science professions

Press contact: Nicky Swire | n.swire@shu.ac.uk

Two robots at the Advanced Wellbeing Research Centre (AWRC)

It follows the widespread adoption of healthcare technology which has been rolled out at scale in response to the Covid-19 pandemic. 

Students on the new MSc Healthcare Analytics and Artificial Intelligence course will help to shape the future of healthcare, from vision to practice, using state-of-the-art technologies in data analytics and artificial intelligence.

The postgraduate conversion course is targeted at healthcare employees who are interested in upskilling into technical roles, individuals who have taken a career break and former healthcare staff looking to return to work, as well as clinicians in roles that are exposed to health data and dashboards. 

Students can choose to study either full-time for one year or on a part-time basis over two years, with the course delivered online and face-to-face to fit flexibly around other commitments. 

Dr Chris Low, Associate Dean in the College of Health, Wellbeing and Life Sciences at Sheffield Hallam, said: “This new course is just one of a range of innovative, digitally-driven courses at Hallam that are needed to develop the workforce skills that are becoming vital for effective healthcare services. As we have seen during the Covid-19 pandemic, diagnosis and treatment increasingly rely on using data to deliver the most efficient, compassionate care. The funding from the Office for Students will help us encourage those sections of the community who, with the right support in place, can make a big contribution to the digital revolution in healthcare services.”

As one of the largest providers of nursing and midwifery education in the UK, Sheffield Hallam is working closely with industry bodies and employers to deliver the course – including the Nursing and Midwifery Council, Council of Deans of Health, Health Education England, NHS Digital, Yorkshire and Humber Academic Health Science Network and Sheffield Teaching Hospitals, as well as analytics and AI providers.   

Natasha Phillips RN, PhD., Chief Nursing Information Officer at NHSx, said: “Building a workforce with the knowledge and skills to advance practice and transform our NHS through the use of technology and data science is fundamental to the ambitions laid out in the long term plan. As an experienced CNIO I know that when we bring our expert clinical knowledge together with expertise in informatics, AI, change management and digital technologies we can do great things. This course, and those like it, with their focus on bringing our clinical knowledge together with knowledge from the domains of informatics and technology has the potential to develop clinicians with the expertise to transform healthcare. 

“In addition, I believe that the growing community of clinical digital leaders should be representative of the diversity of the workforce and the public we serve. I am thrilled that Sheffield Hallam University has recognised that and made scholarships available for underrepresented groups to ensure we can grow that diverse community. I am hopeful that many of my nursing and midwifery colleagues will pursue careers in informatics and undertake the education that equips them with the knowledge to lead the professions and advance our clinical practice.”

The degree programme is funded by Office for Students and follows calls from government for universities to develop AI and data science degree conversion courses to help address the shortage of AI and data specialists in the UK.

Chris Millward, director for fair access and participation at the Office for Students, said: “In recent years we have seen significant and increasing demand for digital skills in a range of fields – including healthcare and biosciences. Harnessing artificial intelligence and data science will be crucial in tackling significant global challenges for years to come.

“It is also critical that graduates from all backgrounds have equal opportunities to gain the skills that employers need. That is why we have funded a range of AI and data science conversion courses across the country, as well as scholarships for students from underrepresented backgrounds. Taken together, these new and innovative degree programmes will both help tackle skills gaps and increase choice and opportunities for all students.”

Each module has been developed as stand-alone CPD learning. Students will learn how to

  • Manage the procurement, implementation and evaluation of digital healthcare technologies
  • Apply and critically appraise AI and data analytics technologies for their suitability to the healthcare sector
  • Evaluate the ethics surrounding data and artificial intelligence systems in a healthcare environment
  • Utilise data frameworks in order to develop new predictive healthcare analytics

Professor Chris Morley, Chief Nurse, Sheffield Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, said: “The Covid-19 pandemic has highlighted the importance of healthcare analytics, so I am delighted that Sheffield Hallam University has launched its MSC Healthcare Analytics and Artificial Intelligence course.  Increasing knowledge amongst healthcare employees of health data and its usage will be essential as the use of healthcare analytics and artificial intelligence becomes more mainstream in the next few years.”

The course prepares graduates for a career in healthcare solutions; clinical informatics; project management; systems training and education; systems procurement management and information management.

Press contact

Nicky Swire

Contact the press office

For help with a story or to find an expert

Email: pressoffice@shu.ac.uk
Phone: 01142 252811
Twitter: @shupressoffice

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