The tech improvement shopping list

This is a summary of the top requests I have read/heard/discussed in the pub for technical improvements to the NHS ePortfolio. Please see other blog posts for debate on use of portfolios and WPBAs in general.

Can NHS Hackday help us? Can we make a case for investment from the Colleges? Can we fix it…..?

Ideas from @_elljay_ @wai2k @bruhaha79 @DocNadine @silv24 @dr_fiona @ben555 @damian_roland @amcunningham @drcjar and many others.

1.  An app: a mobile offline (essential due to lack of wifi or even phone network signal in NHS hospitals) app – primarily for logging assessments CbD, DOPS, miniCex. I don’t know a trainee without a smartphone but the app would need to be cross-platform (iPhone, Android etc). If we want this we need more data that it would be used by trainees (vote in the poll). I don’t know about you but I’d pay £0.69…Here is why this is necessary for valid assessments.

Update Nov 2012: we’re still waiting.

2. A timeline to track progress, visually, and help set targets for mandatory assessments.

Update Nov 2012: one exists for the Foundation Programme Portfolio, but I hear it doesn’t do what trainees want.

3. A better way to link assessments to curriculum items – available for Foundation Portfolio (see video) but not others.

Update Nov 2012: done! Thanks NES.

4. Less restrictive categories of reflection with better ways to link blogs, articles etc. Maybe something like a “read later” function like on instapaper, with ability to link and comment quickly and easily. This could also allow linking of e-learning modules as the completion page/certificate could be sent as a grabbed page rather than having to download then upload a PDF.

Update Nov 2012: no progress. Debate ongoing about how much structure is helpful – individual decision? Options for trainees would be great.

5. Speed. It is incredibly slow, wasting precious valuable hours of doctors’ time that could be spend doing things that were actually  educationally valuable.

Update Nov 2012: some of this is due to NHS systems/servers. But hosting is now in a Cloud which should help a lot. Thanks!

6. Automatic reminders to trainee and trainers if not enough assessments being logged – as popups on timeline and email messages at key “crisis” moments (eg 0 assessments logged after 1 month of new post, less than 50% of mandatory assessments done at halfway point of post).

Update Nov 2012: no progress.

7. An inbox that allowed the user to email it to create reminders of assessment. For example:- I’ve just done a Lumbar Puncture and want a Direct Observed Procedure assessment (DOPS) done. The current process requires me to find a computer, login, click 3 buttons or so. If I don’t do this immediately I would forget. Instead, imagine an ability to just email a pre-defined email address like with the Subject: ‘Lumbar Puncture’ (most likely sent from my smartphone). This would create a placeholder DOPS for you to return to it later when you have the time.  (NB This may be unnecessary if a workable offline app could be created as this functionality could be integrated into it).

Update Nov 2012: no progress. This is lower down the priority list and may have alternative workarounds so not a current focus for attention.

8. Ability to email attachments that will automatically form part of my document and evidence library. Example use case: Thank you letter from patient. Photograph with smartphone -> Email to with appropriate subject title. Done :)! (Could also be used for Conference certificates etc)

Update Nov 2012: no progress.

9. ‘Clever’ pdf forms that allow offline inputting of information that can be uploaded to the NHS eportfolio when convenient. This is how ‘companies house’ does its annual submissions.  —> waiting for example of how this would be used.

Update Nov 2012: no progress. I’m not sure about this suggestion – need clarification from proposer before moving forward.

10. Links from curriculum to relevant e-learning resources (eg, BMJ modules) –> is this now already happening on Foundation portfolio?

Update Nov 2012: Foundation Portfolio now have a version of this: e-learning for Healthcare. Others do not. Still limited as only integrates specifically created e-learning, not others eg BMJ,

11. Rationalise role selection, for sequential and simultaneous roles. 

Update Nov 2012: no progress.

12. Make it look better and work better aesthetics are important.

Update Nov 2012: still needs work.


14 responses to “The tech improvement shopping list

  1. Above are all very good ideas, but with the NHS & other establishment E-portfolios suffering from ‘locked-in’ syndrome, we will have to create our own open source e-portfolio (charged by individual smart-phone app fees). If we can prove that our platform is cheaper and easier to use, then we can challenge NHS, RCGP e-portfolios etc. under the competition rules.

    • I’m not sure things are quite so dire. I think the NHS ePortfolio has a a concussion, rather than locked-in syndrome. Definitely a good chance of recovery, but only if we institute the right treatment! The possibility of a challenge from an alternative provider might help focus attention, however…

  2. anaesthetic trainees have an ‘app’ to log experience with Ga’s and local anaesthetics and different airways and practical procedures. They can use it on their smartphones and link it through RCoA to their eportfolio and subsequent ARCPs. It is called ‘iGaslog’…. why can we medics not have something like this?

  3. A lot of us have old paper forms that have had to be uploaded for the recent round of ARCP’s at the Deanerys request. These are often scanned as .PDF and uploaded, then the information has to be reentered into the online system.
    As the forms are a standard layout, would a OCR system be possible to try and extract as much information as possible from these paper forms to autopopulate the online version?

    • This sounds like a sensible solution, but I imagine that because there are a diminishing population of people for whom this is a problem, there is unlikely to be much interest or funding for this.

  4. I like a lot of your suggestions but have some comments. I will take them point by point.
    1. Think this a good suggestion. I’m not sure that I’d use it myself because I hardly ever have signal in hospital! But I think that a lot of my colleagues would use it and it would encourage logging of cases in a more timely manner.
    2. Excellent idea. I find it really confusing to use the eportfolio. The other thing that annoys me is that it seems to change where things are stored without notifying trainees of this happening and there seems to be a great number of clicks to get to a simple ‘this is what I’ve done to date’. Why not put all the ‘quicklinks’ on your homepage? It’s not very user friendly.
    3. I agree with this point. It does seem to take an awfully long time to link things, even on the new version suggested. That being said it’s very time consuming to link assessments on the current set-up. Could we link multiple points to multiple assessments at once?
    4. Yes definitely to the reflection bit! I noticed in Foundation year 1, the reflection was quite generic – like 3 boxes – describe event, what you did well, what you can do better etc. On the foundation year two portfolio the reflection document proforma is huge and takes an absolute age to complete. Would prefer something simpler because it would promote more reflection. It would also be good to have a flexible reflection section, maybe ability to post links to articles or events that reminded you of clinical events and allowed you to comment?
    I haven’t uploaded ANY documents to eportfolio because it’s quite time consuming. Also, not everyone has a scanner and some documents you have like certificates for courses, teaching feedback forms etc are sent to you in paper form. For interviews they want to see the originals, so not sure why I should upload them to the eportfolio? Why can’t I list them or take a photo or as you say a screen grab?
    5. Yes x a million. Eportfolio is a useful tool but very complicated and not user friendly. Even for people who are computer literate such as myself. Throw into that having to show your supervisor what to do or where to complete things, confuses the situation as sometimes they aren’t able to use it independently! Make the home page screen similar to what you say. Maybe list ‘what I have to do for this rotation’ and a quicklinks panel like ‘dops done’ ‘minicexs’ ‘courses done’ ‘reflections’ etc on the right/left or along the top or as a floating panel that you can delete if you don’t want it. So you don’t have to go through multiple menus to find what you want or get led in circles by confusing headings. Before I could find all my completed forms in one place, now on the new F2 portfolio, seems to be hidden and subdivided, why?! Fewer options and less clicks is the way forward!
    6. Good suggestion. Maybe even text reminders?
    7. I probably wouldn’t use this but I think that some people might find it useful. Maybe even a link on the homepage quicklinks panel would be a good way to do this? Also it would be useful to be able to create a quicklink to this on the homepage.
    8. Excellent idea.
    9. Not sure how this would work. I tend to have access to the internet when I’m using the eportolfio so wouldn’t be a problem for me.
    10. Agree with this point. Would be a useful way to link curriculum points as well.
    11. Completely agree. Has anyone had a meeting with their educational supervisor who by default is listed as the foundation programme director? If this was the case then they’d never have any time to themselves!
    12. I agree. Why not have a default set of things that appear on the homepage and then you could add and delete boxes? So those who want lots on the homepage can have that. If others want the links to be elsewhere then create that option for them. One size doesn’t always fit all.

    Thank you for your website. I think it’s time that we all took issue with the way eportfolio is designed. Your thoughts will help move people from thinking that the eportfolio is a useful not a tick box exercise.

    I do have other thoughts and I will go through the portfolio to find out my other frustrations.

  5. Pingback: An ePortfolio wish list – created by an NHS ePortfolio NES developer | The NHS ePortfolio Revolution starts here

  6. Number 2 already exists and number 3 is now complete.

    • Thanks Ben. Actually the timeline only exists for the Foundation Portfolio, and the feedback I’ve heard is that it unfortunately it doesn’t do what was hoped. It is great to see the changes made to linking – a discussion on how educationally valuable linking is needs to be had, but in the meantime this makes the process much less painful so thanks. A tip some trainees don’t know is that the ePortfolio website runs faster in firefox and Chrome. If you’re still using Internet Explorer to access the ePortfolio you are slowing the process down for yourself!

  7. We have now moved to a different hosting platform and the speed issue should now be resolved.

  8. Pingback: Progress | The NHS ePortfolio Revolution starts here

  9. Pingback: News from the trenches | The NHS ePortfolio Revolution starts here

  10. Pingback: Feedback from NES events | The NHS ePortfolio Revolution starts here

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