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HEE Midlands and East Technology Enhanced Learning: Working Together in a Digital Future.

On the 27th February 2019 we attended the HEE Midlands and East Technology Enhanced Learning: Working Together in a Digital Future workshop.

Presentations can be found at

The first from Dr Neil Ralph @DrNRalph, HEE National TEL Programme Manager, was titled “Embracing the digital revolution to educate and train in the NHS”. He argued that technology use is prevalent in society and among NHS staff. 80% of staff are currently using TEL, and 96% would do so if offered. He highlighted the success of e-LfH (e-Learning for Healthcare): 980,000 users; 24,000 sessions, and gave a tantalising glimpse of the forthcoming HEE Learning Solution. Slides are here.

Sue Lacey Bryant @SueLaceybryant, Topol Review Programme Manager, and Sangeetha Sornalingam @sangeetha104, GP and Clinical Fellow HEE, introduced the Topol Review: Preparing the healthcare workforce to deliver the digital future:  Patients will be at the centre of new technologies and be empowered to take greater charge of their care using digital tools.  Technology offer the gift of time, whereby clinicians will be able to spend more time with their patients. 

The four themes are genomics; artificial intelligence and robotics; digital medicine; and organisational development. TEL will play a vital role in preparing NHS staff for future developments in these areas. There  TOPOL says that ‘the adoption of digital healthcare should be grounded in compelling real-world evidence of clinical efficacy and cost effectiveness’ and that ‘healthcare professionals will need to access training resources and educational programme…to build their digital readiness;’ these are some of the fantastic opportunities for Library and Knowledge Services staff.  What will TEL and LKS look like in 2029 and how will we prepare? Slides are here

At the subsequent Midlands and East LKS Network Event on 16th May, Sue highlighted some recommendations.  Librarians and knowledge specialists need to keep a watching brief and consider how we can enable or support the wider workforce. 

As a minimum LKS need to be aware of developments to be able to signpost trusted sources to staff and the wider public, offer training in critical appraisal of sources to staff and the wider public and to inform the research taking place in this area.   There could also be a role for LKS in supporting digital skill development of the current workforce.

LKS has a key role in meeting the needs of current workforce providing space, signposting and support for CPD and lifelong learning.  OD5 and OD6 are key recommendation for LKS teams; they cover knowledge management and the dissemination of the evidence.  LKS can lead on enabling staff to learn from experience and develop and use systems to disseminate and learn from early adoption and share examples.

Richard Price @RichardPriceUK, Learning Technologies Advisor HEE, gave a thought provoking presentation on “Artificial Intelligence: hype vs. reality”. What is a myth and what isn’t was actually quite surprising.  He spoke about different types  artificial intelligence, some of which contain a human element and others which didn’t, and explained that human adaptability is somewhat behind the pace of technological development  Slides are here.

Andi Blackmore, HEE E-LfH Project Manager, gave a deeper update on e-LfH (e-Learning for Healthcare): including its design and development process. Slides are here.

There was also a Randomised Coffee Trial, where we were paired to share knowledge with someone we hadn’t met before, and a Knowledge Café on shaping the Midlands and East TEL network. It was interesting to see how TEL staff in the NHS are seeking to develop networks along the lines of those that already exist for LKS staff.

TEL staff are possibly an even smaller professional group within the NHS than LKS staff. However we all come under the same HEE umbrella and we share the same aim to improve the skills and knowledge of all NHS staff. We are natural allies.

Stephen Ayre & Richard Bridgen



Are you an NHS Library and Knowledge Service worker looking to develop your leadership skills?

There are a number of opportunities available to you to develop your skills in this area.

The Learning Zone

The learning Zone on the knowledge for healthcare blog has a section looking at leadership; from blogs to books, e-learning to reports. Exploring this site, you will find links to free courses around leadership in the Open University. An example of one of the courses available is Leadership and Followership. Review and reflect on what kind of leader you are (or could be), what makes a good leader and what happens when leadership goes wrong. Continue on to consider why followership is important and finish off with considering how to develop yourself as a leader. If you register and complete the course, you can gain a statement of participation. 

For those of you who prefer reading have a look at:’re passionate about providing high quality information and resources that help you learn and develop the skills you need to make the most of everyday life”.Explore the leadership section and see what you can learn and how you can develop. They explore issues around, “What is a Leader?”, “What Skills do Good Leaders Need?”, “Developing your Leadership Style” before moving on to look more closely at some of the skills good leaders have; planning and organising, strategic thinking, change management and persuasion and influencing skills. 

If you feel that coaching or mentoring would help you develop your leadership skills further than this is also a possibility, see for more details.

Leadership Academy

Continuing in the learning zone you will come across the NHS Leadership Academy. This is not just a site for those aspiring to be senior NHS managers – it there for everyone. Explore the section on the Healthcare leadership modelWe’ve developed the Healthcare Leadership Model to help you become a better leader in your day-to-day role. You don’t have to be in a clinical or service setting to use it. And it doesn’t matter whether you work in a team of five or are responsible for 5,000, you can benefit by discovering and exploring your own leadership behaviours”.  You don’t need to be in a formal management or leadership role to develop these skills they are useful for everyone.


If you are a member of CILIP you can join their leadership network and access webinars and other e-learning resources around leadership. Including one on developing leadership “… We will explore the different leadership styles and the characteristics of each. The main functions of leadership include controlling the process of achieving the task, evaluating the outcome and keeping the team motivated, we will look at each of these in turn. Finally, we will look at the importance of setting a good example.” They also have modules on “What is an Effective Leader” and “Seeing Change Through”.

CILIP also offers webinars to all its members and you can go back and re-watch these if you weren’t able to see them live. There is one by Luke Stevens-Burt on Leadership at all levels. These are designed to fit into a busy day and shouldn’t take more than 60 minutes.

Professional Knowledge and Skills Base for Health

The PKSB for Health outlines the broad range of skills required by librarians and knowledge specialists working in health, enriching them with the addition of examples from a health sector. It is accessible to all NHS library workers, those who have membership of CILIP can use the PKSB for Health along side the online PKSB tool. It allows you to self-assess your current rating against multiple different skills and knowledge and state where you want to end up.  

There are 12 sections within the PKSB for Health one of which (section 9) is focused on Leadership and Advocacy: “Provide active leadership by inspiring and managing themselves and teams, both inside and outside the organisation and by promoting the positive value of library, information and knowledge services across the organisation and society. Includes leading and inspiring teams, influencing key stakeholders and understanding external frameworks. Health LKS staff take an active leadership role and seek opportunities to develop leadership and advocacy skills”.

Talent Management Toolkit

The talent management toolkit was developed to recognise and support the talent of library and knowledge service workers. A section of the talent grid highlights; “Demonstrates Engaging Leadership Behaviours”. It allows you to see what is considered a novice, a professional and a world class talent in this area.

  • Novice: “Leads the team and develops processes that encourage colleagues to develop the service”.
  • Professional: “Develops a positive team culture, networks across internal stakeholders and communicates the local vision to colleagues”.
  • World Class: “Communicates a compelling and credible vision which inspires and motivates others. Shows confidence and integrity under criticism. Create a shared purpose which others are excited to deliver. Demonstrate to others how they are valued and integral in the workplace. Demonstrates an inclusive approach”.

 If you feel that you are working in the world class end of the spectrum then it would be worth talking to your line manager about having a talent conversation using the talent management toolkit.  

Other Opportunities

Accessing information online is not the only way to develop your leadership skills, there may be opportunities within your NHS organisation to access formal learning or become part of a project group or work stream. Look out for these opportunities and take part in them. They will develop you in ways you aren’t expecting and may lead onto other things.

There are always opportunities to get involved in projects, task and finish groups, and work streams within Knowledge for Healthcare. These will continue and they give you a chance to put theoretical learning around leadership into practice while building up your professional networks. 

Introduction to text mining and machine learning in systematic reviews

By Tom Roper, Clinical Librarian, Royal Sussex County Hospital

A group of librarians from NICE, Public Health England, universities and NHS Library and Knowledge services were privileged to attend a workshop on Text Mining and Machine Learning in Systematic Reviews, led by [James Thomas] (, Professor of Social Research and Policy at the EPPI-Centre.  James designed [EPPI-Reviewer[ (, software to manage all types of literature review, including systematic reviews, meta-analyses, ‘narrative’ reviews and meta-ethnographies, and leads Cochrane’s [Project Transform](

James outlined the problem: we systematically lose research, and then spend a great deal of effort and money on trying to find it again. We need to use correct methods, and, moreover, need to be seen to be correct. There are quantitative issues as well: Cochrane reviewers screen more than 2 million citations a year.  Can this considerable human effort be made more manageable by the judicious use of text mining and machine learning? While tools are being developed to help this task, their development is uneven, as is their adoption.

James distinguished between three types of machine learning, rules-based (unfashionable in computer science circles, he warned), unsupervised, and supervised, and gave us opportunities to try out tools based on these approaches using our own devices.

Rules-based approaches are accurate, but fragile – they either work, or fail completely. Unsupervised approaches work by leaving a machine to identify patterns in the data, for example by clustering documents, for example [LDAVis ]( based, you don’t need me to tell you, on Latent Dirichlet Allocation.

Supervised approaches require a human or humans to give the machine training data; after a while, from a 280,000 row spreadsheet in an example James quoted, a statistical model can be constructed which can then be used with new material to determine whether or not a study is a randomised controlled trail or not. Training data comes from people, including data generated for other purposes, data created for the project itself  and crowd-sourced data, as in the case of [Cochrane Crowd ](, which mobilises Cochrane Citizen Scientists to decide whether or not the subject of a database record is an RCT.

In systematic reviews, these approaches may be used to identify studies by citation screening or classification, to map research activity, and to automate data extraction, including performing Risk of Bias assessment and extraction of statistical data. Readers may be familiar with tools that take a known set of citations, and use word frequency counts, or analysis of phrases and adjacent terms to create word or phrases lists or visualisations.  Similarly, term extraction and automatic clustering can be used to do statistical and linguistic analysis on text, for human review, and, if deemed useful, modification of an initial search strategy. [Voyant Tools]( is one example, as are [Bibexcel](, [Termine]( and even the use of Endnote’s subject bibliography feature to generate lists of keywords.

Citation networks can be used for supplementary searching – will this change, James asked, if or when all bibliographic data becomes open? Useful tools here, apart from traditional ones such as Web of Science, include [VosViewer]( We also spent some time playing with [EPPI-Reviewer](, the EPPI-Centre’s own tool for systematic reviewers and with [Carrot2 Search](

In the future, James suggested that there is a great deal of interest in a “surveillance” approach to finding evidence, which can automatically identify if a review or some guidance needs updating. Cochrane are developing the [Cochrane Evidence Pipeline]( which aims to triage citations found by machine or crowd-sourced methods can either be triaged by the relevant Cochrane Review Group, or assessed using machine-learning.

While the workshop focussed on systematic reviews, for a jobbing librarian like me in a clinical setting, searches to support systematic review will make up only a small part of the workload. Nevertheless, searches still need to be conducted soundly and rigorously. Can artificial intelligence and machine learning help? Certainly some of the tools James showed are useful when formulating search strategies. A group within London and Kent Surrey and Sussex NHS Libraries is developing a search protocol for the region. We may well find ourselves referencing some of these tools. It is always stimulating to hear a world leader in a field talk, and I’m sure all the workshop participants would join me in thanking both Professor Thomas for giving up his time, and Health Education England for organising the workshop.

The tools James described, and more, may be found on the [EPPI-Centre website] ( See also the National Centre for Text Mining’s page of [software tools] (

For a systematic review on the subject see:

O’Mara-Eves A, Thomas J, McNaught J, Miwa M, Ananiadou S. Using text mining for study identification in systematic reviews: a systematic review of current approaches. Syst Rev. 2015 Jan 14;4:5. doi: 10.1186/2046-4053-4-5.

For a more recent overview, I would recommend Julie Glanville’s chapter on Text Mining for Information Specialists in Paul Levay and Jenny Craven’s new book on systematic searching:

Glanville J. Text mining for information specialists. In: Craven J, Levay P, editors. Systematic searching:  practical ideas for improving results.  London : Facet Publishing 2018. p.147-169.