Monday, April 3, 2017

A new, free e-portfolio for midwives and nurses

For years now I have been exploring and experimenting with online systems to develop a universal e-portfolio for midwives and nurses that they could use from day one of their undergraduate education; for the rest of their careers.

I would have loved to have seen this come via the profession or (with a little hesitation) the regulator. However, this vision has not materialized, not least because of funding constraints.

So, it was with great interest that I have had a look at a new e-portfolio tool provided free of charge to Australian midwives and nurses by Ausmed. Ausmed is a company that specialises in nurse (and midwifery) CPD, providing online education, conferences and e-news update.
The Ausmed tool is very easy to use and can be downloaded as an app on one's portable device, as well as a web-based application. Portability is a very desirable function as it allows midwives and nurses to record their CPD and learning activities in real time, which facilitates greater accuracy and engagement. I know that I forget to record what I have learned after a study day etc, and am much less motivated to engage with my portfolio as time goes by. So being able to record on the job, so to speak,  makes life much easier, especially when it comes to meeting registration requirements for the Nursing and Midwifery Board of Australia (NMBA).
What I like about this tool is you can record activities other than the standard conference or study day, such as reading or mentoring, as well as reflect on your learning.  
You are able to upload documents, such as attendance certificates, as evidence of your learning and activities. There is also an ability to download a report as a pdf. 
As well as recording activities, the app allows you to develop a learning plan, which is the other component of the NMBA CPD requirement. 
The other thing I like is a section called "Fast CPD" which has short articles focused on particular topics of interest that update or teach. The only snag is that there are very little articles of relevance to midwives - hopefully that will be rectified soon.
The other cool thing the app does is keep a track of CPD hours and lets you know how many hours you must record in order to meet NMBA requirements, and how many more days you have to meet the requirement before the end of the registration year. 

My concerns about this innovation is that it is managed by a commercial company, who clearly say in their Privacy Policy that they will use your information for purposes such as analytics, marketing and research. They even say in their Privacy Policy that they may "disclose your personal information to overseas recipients for the purposes of providing services or products to you". I would be very careful about information I save in the app/tool, and especially careful about disclosing information relating to patients, clients or healthcare.  
Ausmed does say "Please contact Ausmed using the information contained at the bottom of the Ausmed Websites, our emails, and this Privacy Policy to restrict Ausmed's collection, disclosure and use of your Personal Information." This 'opt out' system is designed so that we are unlikely to do so; again, my advice is to very carefully read and consider the Privacy Policy and its impact on you as a health professional. 
I would also carefully read all the terms and conditions because I am not clear about the IP of content stored in the e-portfolio. The terms and condition say "grant us a perpetual, non-exclusive, royalty-free, irrevocable, worldwide and transferable right and licence to use that content in any way". This needs to be clarified by Ausmed.

Other questions I have that I will check out with Ausmed include:
  • Where are the servers that keep our information? Are they in Australia liable to Australian laws, or overseas?
  • What are Ausmed's long term plans for the app? Will it remain free, or will a fee be introduced soon?
  • How often are backups carried out? What are the chances that data will be lost? 
  • Is there a limit to the amount of data that can be uploaded into an entry?
In conclusion, the Ausmed CPD organiser, or e-portfolio looks like a very easy and relevant tool for midwives and nurses. However, it is being offered by a commercial company, so it's worth being aware that there will be something in it for Ausmed, and think about how that may impact on your professional practice.

2 comments:

Cynthea Wellings said...

Dear Sarah,

COMMENT FROM AUSMED EDUCATION

Thank you for reviewing the Ausmed CPD platform.  We have worked hard to develop this tool over a considerable period of time and are pleased that you found it relatively easy to use. 

In regard to the more general questions raised in your review, Ausmed’s long term plans for the app are to continue to provide a free service that enables all nurses and midwives to record CPD. We conduct many face-to-face continuing professional development educational events in Australia (educating thousands of nurses and also midwives each year) and this free tool is available to support those who engage in these CPD activities. This was our initial motivation for developing the tool, which we have now made available to others, free of charge.

In regard to the Terms and Conditions relating to ‘our Content’, we are grateful for the observations you highlight and we will review these terms and conditions to remove any ambiguity. ‘Your Content’ is intended to refer to information posted onto the platform such as a comment on a learning resource, but it is not intended to refer to one's private CPD Documentation.  Be assured, we have never and would never allow private CPD documentation to be made available to any third party.   You will note there is no third party advertising embedded in the app and neither of our websites (ausmed.com and ausmed.com.au) contain any third party advertising either.

Our data storage policy and backup protocols are rigorous, however, we do advise users to print a hard copy as no internet service is 100% guaranteed to be free from any problems.

Finally, there is no limit to how much CPD one can document for free using the app.

Thank you again for your comments - your feedback is greatly appreciated and will enable us to further develop the app so that it truly serves the purpose of enabling nurses and midwives to effectively document their CPD.

Cynthea Wellings CEO

Sarah Stewart said...

Hi Cynthia, thanks so much for popping by and giving your feedback - I have been meaning to contact you and have been so busy I just didn't make it. Thanks for clarifying many of my observations. The app is getting lots of use by midwives, if what I am hearing is anything to go by. Great work!