The MDS HEFi Digital team worked in collaboration with Medicine Academics in developing a digital alternative to the paper-based Clinical Skills Passport (CSP) used by all MBChB clinical year students. The digital requirement was raised following a review of the college IntraMed legacy database which was retired due to GDPR legislation implications with effect from July 2019.

During the academic year 2018/19, the MDS HEFi Business Partner led on an initial horizon scanning project to identify alternative software platforms for the CSP development. This coincided with the institutional licence procurement of PebblePad. Initial findings showed there was a lack of commitment to use a dedicated digital resource for clinical skills capture across the majority of Medical Schools researched nationally.

There had been very little development on a large scale in any institution other than Liverpool, who themselves had developed their own version of the passport in PebblePad using previously developed functionality which had quickly become dated and required a high level of student interaction.

Most medical schools have an effective assessment strategy and continually review how well the strategy is working and demonstrates how it meets the standards in ‘Tomorrow Doctors’ (2009 GMC).

Research demonstrates the need to innovate in this particular field and the requirement to develop a digital platform for the passport due to the legacy system being retired was an excellent opportunity to explore, develop and work in collaboration with PebblePad and the Birmingham Medical School to design and develop a passport which met the specific requirements of the University of Birmingham. 

For the past 12 months, the MDS HEFi digital team have been working in partnership with PebblePad to understand its functionality and build a CSP digital platform to pilot across the MBChB programme during the 2019/20 academic session.

Working in Partnership with PebblePad, the MDS HEFi Digital team identified several methods of functionality in the software which would meet the requirements of capturing procedural skills sign off. PebblePad presented the favoured functionality alongside the institutional licence already being procured. The MDS HEFi Digital team encouraged the uptake of institutionally supported digital tools to minimise the impact of future development and sustainability needs.

The student experience including the number of clicks to perform each process was continually raised as a consideration during the design process. The academic view was to minimise student requirements of additional steps vs. the paper-based passport process.

The platform was originally built using the activity log functionality, this didn’t meet the Pebble Pocket App functionality in terms of accurate reporting and also required the student user to complete more steps to capture the digital signed off form.

Following further software development, the platform was then built using the new collections functionality in the Pebble+ workbook design which worked in partnership with the Pebble Pocket App offline forms functionality.

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The Pebble Pocket app enables the student to replace the approved process on paper.

The new electronic system is more efficient and quicker. The Pebble Pocket app will show each student’s progress in clinical skills and help to showcase the skill levels they have achieved to clinical staff during their study and for professional portfolio requirements.

Using a mobile device is a new approach for students whilst on placement.

Most medical schools have an effective assessment strategy and continually review how well the strategy is working and demonstrates how it meets the standards in ‘Tomorrow Doctors’ (2009 GMC).