Development of a digital health capability framework for allied health professionals

Ms Nikki Littlewood1, Brit Gordon1

1Austin Health, Melbourne, Australia

Background: The extent of digital health use in allied health practice varies across individuals, professions and organisations. A digital health capability framework is critical in ensuring the allied health workforce are optimally skilled to provide patient-centred services that harness emerging technologies.

Objective: To develop a framework to guide and build digital health capabilities in allied health professionals (AHPs).

Methods: This project involved a scoping review, expert panel discussion and interviews, thematic grouping of themes and capabilities, and user-acceptance testing via a survey circulated to AHPs in Victoria.

Results: The scoping review identified three digital health capability frameworks; none were specific to AHPs. Thematic grouping of capabilities from the identified frameworks, expert panel discussion and interviews determined four domains essential to safe and effective care delivery in a digital health environment. The domains identified were (1) the digital workplace; (2) digital professionalism; (3) data and analytics; and (4) digital transformation. The domains were divided into 17 subdomains containing 44 capabilities. The knowledge, behaviours and associated capability statements are specified for each subdomain. Each capability statement describes the performance requirements across four levels of progression: foundation; consolidation; expert; and leader. User-acceptance testing (n=164) indicated respondents thought the framework format was easy to follow (91%) and the language easy to understand (82%).

Conclusion: This framework provides individual AHPs, departments and organisations the opportunity to measure digital health capability, identifying areas for improvement to guide professional development. Sector-wide benchmarking of capabilities could also assist in understanding digital skill gaps and drive educational activities to address these.


Abbey Sawyer, Clinical Research Fellow, University of Melbourne

Allied Health Clinical Informatics Advisory Group, Department of Health, Victoria

Project Governance Committee members

Project Working Group members


Nikki has a Bachelor of Physiotherapy and a Master of Physiotherapy and more than 20 years of clinical experience in public hospitals in the UK and Australia. Nikki has been actively involved in digital health technology implementation in public health and she is passionate about using digital health to improve service delivery, patient care and health outcomes.

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