The Erasmus+ DISH project

The DISH European Reference Group
A chat with the European Reference Site Collaborative Network (RSCN)

The DISH project aims at strengthening the innovation readiness and digital skills of health and social care staff in their everyday practice. To ensure that the very stakeholders for whom the DISH solutions are meant can provide feedback, the project has established a European Reference Group (ERG). Its members represent key stakeholders who are active and interested in the strengthening of  health and social care workers’ digital skills, among which healthcare employers, doctors, nurses, pharmaceutical students, and many more.

ERG Members provide feedback and expert opinion throughout the project implementation phase and make sure that the proposed solutions are tailored to the actual needs of the stakeholders they represent. They also support the project as awareness multipliers reaching out to additional healthcare providers, enterprise clusters and educational institutions.

To introduce you to the Members of the DISH European Reference Group, we will be sharing an interview we had with them on their strategy to improve the digital skills of the health workforce. Our next interview is with Maddalena Illario, Co-chair of the European Reference Site Collaborative Network (RSCN).

Could you please introduce yourself and the organisation you represent?

I am Maddalena Illario MD, PhD, Endocrinologist at Federico II Department of Public Health; Coordinator of the R&D Unit of Federico II Hospital; and I have managed the Campania Region Division on Health Innovation from December 2016 to July 2020. I have been involved, directly and indirectly, in the set-up, coordination and implementation of 19 international projects focusing on the digital transformation of health and care, among which HS-Monitor, Vigour, Young 50, EU_SHAFE. Since 2013, I have been involved in the European Partnership on Active and Healthy Aging, coordinating the Campania Reference Site, fostering participation of local stakeholders to many collaborative activities with international partners, and contributing to the development of the Blueprint on the Digital Transformation of Health and Care. Currently, I am the Co-chair of the European Reference Site Collaborative Network (RSCN).

What are your organisation’s priorities as they relate to the health workforce’s ICT literacy?

The RSCN brings together all accredited 103 EIP on AHA Reference Site regions in Europe into a single network to facilitate the sharing of knowledge and expertise; create opportunities for collaboration to address common health and care challenges; advocate on their behalf with the European Commission on health and care, including active and healthy ageing, policies; and facilitate them in their development and with regional health and care reform programmes.

The RSCN aims to support Reference Sites in Europe and beyond to:

– promote active and healthy ageing by supporting and developing strategic collaborations across Governments, health and care providers, universities and researchers, industry, and citizens to implement innovative and multidimensional approaches to prevent disability, frailty and age-related diseases during the entire life-course, and to support independent living;

– accelerate the deployment of major innovations which will improve health and care outcomes, and increase the sustainability of health and care systems, and create economic growth and jobs.

EIP on AHA Reference Sites are regional ecosystems bringing together the key stakeholders in regional/local government, including health and care providers; researchers and academia; SMEs; and civil society to deliver creative and workable solutions that improve the lives and health of older people and the whole community. In this framework, the digital literacy of the health workforce plays a key-role as enabling factor to implement innovative and multidimensional approaches to prevent disability, frailty and age-related diseases during the entire life-course, and to support independent living. Strengthening the digital literacy of the health workforce can accelerate the deployment of major innovations which will improve health and care outcomes, and increase the sustainability of health and care systems, and create economic growth and jobs.

What is your organisation’s strategy for implementing or supporting solutions to improve the health workforce’s digital and innovation skills?

The RSCN strength lies in its thematic working groups that span several key-topics and involve many experts in different disciplines. This peer-to-peer approach can support and facilitate increasing digital literacy of the health workforce and ensures the engagement of the stakeholders, facilitating the transfer of successful experiences horizontally and vertically.

How do you think that your involvement in the DISH European Reference Group can support your organisation’s strategy?

The DISH European Reference Group can facilitate the identification and transfer of good practices aimed at strengthening the digital skills of the health workforce that can be further broadened by the RSCN and its collaborations.

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