There is an escalating need for a digitally competent and scientifically based foot health practitioner workforce to meet societal needs. For example, 24 to 30% of the EU population will have to turn to a foot health practitioner/podiatrist during their life, driven by changes due to ageing, diabetes and/or obesity (McRitchie et al., 2018). EU Commission statements on “Digital Single Market” (2018) asked that we rethink health care systems. This requires innovative solutions making health care more accessible and patient-centered.
In terms of achieving this in foot health care practice, several barriers exist. One barrier is the low levels of digital literacy in the foot health workforce, creating a mismatch between client/patient needs and expectations. A key example that this project will address is the digital design and manufacture of foot orthoses (therapeutic insoles). These can now be prescribed using end-to-end digital systems, including opportunities for cloud based knowledge systems to support clinical, manufacture and supply decisions. In response to this the consortium will develop novel curricula to rapidly upskill practitioners and accelerate their digital literacy.
A second barrier is the risk of unchecked clinical practices being adopted leading to wasted treatments and money, ineffective practices, and at worst a risk to people’s foot and general health. To address this the consortium will develop curriculum that anchors clinical practice in good scientific evidence.