What would you ask?

As a result of this blog, and “a little help from my friends” I have a meeting next week at the Royal College of Physicians to discuss the NHS ePortfolio. I hope to articulate the discussions on this blog, and those that I have had over email, twitter and in person with many of you.

I hope to communicate the frustration felt by trainees and others about the NHS ePortfolio, along with the hope that it could be something so much better: a true educational and professional development tool to support lifelong learning. I hope to gain a better understanding of the views of the Colleges, in particular the view of the governance structures, the funding streams, and the future vision.

Broad areas I hope to discuss include:

  • lack of user input on any decisions about the ePortfolio and proposals to change this
  • poor communication of the rationale for, and timing of changes (personally, I had no warning about the change to formative and summative DOPS) and the effect this has on demoralised trainees
  • technical limitations – such as speed, which increase frustration and decrease utility
  • design limitations – such as lack of flexibility, poor organisation and visualisation of content so that it is hidden away and can’t effectively inform PDPs. These design limitations have an adverse effect on the educational utility of the ePortfolio
  • educational limitations due to lack of an app, meaning delays between a workplace-based assessment being observed, and completed online (therefore feedback becomes meaningless)
  • other limitations – lack of ability to share content with anyone other than supervisors, lack of interoperability and exportability of data for more creative uses
  • what does the College believe is the answer to the question “who owns the data in the ePortfolio?”
  • is there scope for greater collaboration between JRCPTB, RCPCH, The Foundation Programme and other groups who commission their ePortfolios through NES, to invest jointly for change – an app would be a perfect opportunity for this. The users of these systems share many basic needs, and could have individual specifics built in
  • what is the future of the ePortfolio, in technical, and educational terms, and how will this be decided?
  • how is the ePortfolio funded and commissioned? What are the plans for the future? How can we improve the process and increase transparency?
  • the concept of an ePortfolio has great potential but is not delivering what is needed. Investment is essential. User input is essential. There is a great opportunity to get this right and improve both the perception and reality of postgraduate training. Who will lead this change? Will it be the RCP?

I am very grateful to the RCP for taking the time to meet with me, and hope it will be a very constructive and positive conversation. Please let me know what else you feel is essential for me to communicate, as we begin to get closer to a process for change.

What would you ask? Please let me know by commenting below. You can also still edit the ePortfolio Trainee Roadmap


5 responses to “What would you ask?

  1. Great work LJ, and I think you have covered the main points in the list above.

    The biggest single problem is lack of interoperability and lack of download in a sensible “machine readable” format (ie NOT PDF!! but something like LEAP2A, JSON, XML would be suitable) – these are massively important, as the ability to download your data into a competing ePortfolio would mean the NHS ePortfolio would have to keep up with the market. All the other criticisms would soon get fixed if they were faced with a mass exodus and potential loss of their funding stream (that is,if trainees were allowed freedom of choice to use any ePortfolio – which as ‘adult learners’ I think they jolly well should be!)

    When you meet with the RCP, I would highly recommend showing them, on a *live ePortfolio session*, exactly what you mean (eg on the issues of poor speed, clunkiness), because many of them will have limited “real use” experience of the ePortfolio – despite being in charge of it! (I’m sure you will have probably planned to do this anyway).

    Good Luck


  2. Great work LJ. I think that it would perhaps it might be one idea on focus on what the NHSeportfolio hopes to achieve. Is. what’st he job to be done and then demonstrate how it make it hard to do it.

    For me it should:-

    Help the trainees identify
    1) areas that require attention ie. training needs
    2) their strengths
    3) how they compare to their peers at the same stage of training
    4) provide ‘ideas’ on how they might be able to achieve their goals

    Providing data in an exchangeable format etc., trainee involvement are methods to achieve the above and they will always be differing opinion on how to achieve the goals.

    I guess what I’m trying to say is first find common ground and agreement before going into specific details.

    Good luck and we will be with you in spirit.

  3. @mgacsm provided some good ideas via Twitter, copied here:
    1) what is the primary purpose of the portfolio? ie to support learning, for assessment, for regulatory purposes
    2) who does the portfolio belong to? ie trainer, RCP, employer, Deanery – important in detemining purposes and use
    3) how can the portfolio be more learner-centred, allowing trainee to determine contents, organisation and use?
    4) how can resources be better invested to make e-portfolio more user friendly, including supported by mobile devices?


  4. Dr LJ, you are a legend. Please get the app on the road as it has been a real pain for us. Most junior doctors have a smartphone of some sort. Even if its not a standalone app it can be a mobile version of the app online (like a webapp)…

    The issue also arises when most hospitals (at least in London) don’t have mobile reception… so it would be good if you can collect stuff on your phone as you go and then sync/upload when you do have connection. I have not recorded most of my procedures as it took an awful amount of time to scan, login, upload and send a ticket to the appropriate person!!!

    Thanks for your hard work.

    • Thanks – you’re far too nice! I feel your pain – the technology is preventing, rather than facilitating, the recording of workplace-based learning. This must change. It’s a slow process but hopefully we’re getting there!

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