23 January 2020

Digital now will be a new online training platform for pathologists

The College, in partnership with Health Education England (HEE), is developing Digital Now, an online training platform for pathologists.

Using technology to enhance learning, the first module will cover histopathology, with the aim of developing the technology for other specialities in the future.

Dr Hasan Rizvi, Clinical Director, the Royal College of Pathologists and Lead for Innovation, School of Pathology, London and South East, said:

‘We are delighted to be working in partnership with Health Education England to harness the latest technology to enhance learning and to help deliver flexible training.

With the advent of digital pathology, there are unique opportunities to support future training models and multidisciplinary learning, and to do so in a way that addresses some of the current and future pathology workforce challenges.’

The Topol review, published by HEE, explored how technology will impact on healthcare and its workforce, focusing on the impact of digital health, genomics, robotics and artificial intelligence over the next 20 years.

Topol highlighted the need to adapt to developing technology, and a range of workforce reviews have emphasised the need to provide increasing flexibility during medical training pathways.

This is particularly relevant for pathology, as rising demand and workforce pressures in histopathology are creating high workloads for staff. A new independent learning platform such as Digital Now can help support the training of histopathology trainees.

The platform

Morphological, clinical and dissection learning support will be provided on Digital Now via digital materials linked in graded stages to the Histopathology FRCPath and Advanced Practice in Histopathology Reporting curriculum. The materials will cover different specialty areas in a sequence starting with gastrointestinal pathology and rolling out to other areas.

The platform has been designed to support not only digital morphological learning, but also to support clinical and macroscopic learning. It will include uploads of material already scanned as part of previous Deanery projects, to reduce duplication and provide broader access.

In particular the aim of the Digital Now is to implement a graded competence-based model of learning support on a digital platform that will:

  • align digital training material to the curricula of medical and scientist advanced practitioner training programmes
  • enable graded learning through successive training rounds
  • support demonstration of competence at specific levels of ability  
  • enable digital exams
  • enable upskilling during step-on step-off training
  • support formal demonstration of achievement of competence for independent reporting during training
  • support reskilling following a move of role or return to practice
  • support equality of access to learning materials via a web based system
  • support learning from mistakes
  • support learning in the era of transition from glass based learning to digital learning for both established practitioners and trainees.

The College will work with NHS Improvement and local providers to ensure that trainees have access to facilities to access the materials. The platform will be able to be used on tablets with good resolution, enabling wider use than just departments that have already made the step to digital pathology.