Canada’s Digital Health Faculty Peer Network Strategy


Nagle, L. (July, 2016). Canada’s Digital Health Faculty Peer Network Strategy. Online Journal of Nursing Informatics (OJNI), 20(2). Available at

As the use of information and communication technologies (ICT) to support the delivery of care in all sectors has become the norm, there is a need to ensure that nursing graduates of the future are knowledgeable in the application and use of these tools. At the same time, consumers are increasingly using these technologies to interact with the healthcare system for the purposes of health promotion, self and remote monitoring and management, especially for chronic diseases. Thus consumer health solutions are another suite of technologies about which nurses need to be savvy.

To this end, with the support of Canada Health Infoway, the Canadian Association of Schools of Nursing (CASN) established a network of 11 nursing faculty informatics experts representing different regions of Canada to advance the integration of informatics content into undergraduate curricula.  The specific goals of this initiative were to achieve:

  • An increased understanding of digital health and the future directions of nursing care in technology enabled environments among nursing faculty;
  • A greater readiness among faculty in Canadian schools of nursing to integrate informatics and consumer health content into undergraduate curricula; and,
  • The inclusion of undergraduate learning opportunities about digital health and the use of consumer health solutions in practice.

Building upon the earlier CASN work focused on the development of Entry-to-Practice Competencies for Registered Nurses (CASN, 2012) and a toolkit to support nursing faculty integration activities (CASN, 2013), the Digital Health Faculty Peer Network (DHFPN) initiative has engaged more than 75 nursing faculty from across Canada to advance educator capacity in this area.  The DHFPN is providing information, advice, and support for the integration of content related to the Entry-to-Practice Nursing Informatics Competencies for Registered Nurses (CASN, 2012) into undergraduate curriculum. Examples of content integration include the:

  • Evaluation of online resources to support patient care and education
  • Use of standardized nursing data and clinical terminologies
  • Protection of privacy with the use of ICT
  • Use of ICT to enhance patient safety
  • Integration of electronic health records into nursing practice
  • Use of consumer health solutions such as personal health records, smartphone apps, social media, and remote monitoring devices.

The faculty peer leaders are working with faculty to identify strategies and approaches for content integration using methods that have included: webinars, workshops, faculty presentations, teleconferences, and one on one mentoring. The Peer Leaders co-develop learning plans with nursing faculty to determine their specific learning objectives. One of the central mechanisms for sharing resources and communicating to the broader network has been the creation of a Moodle website. This has provided all registered network members with access to a myriad of tools and resources, relevant web links, and the opportunity to engage in community wide discussions online. Nursing faculty involved in the project are completing surveys at the beginning and end of the initiative to identify changes in their knowledge and skills.

The faculty peer leaders also developed a Consumer Health Solutions Resource that is currently being disseminated more widely and is available for download at:  The Consumer Health Solutions Resource for faculty includes common consumer health solutions and suggested teaching methods and approaches for the classroom and clinical setting. Notably, as part of the DHFPN efforts, with the guidance of two of the peer leaders, a student nurse (Dinsdale, 2016) developed an introductory video for educator use, on the use of social media in practice (available at:

All of these educational resources and strategies have been developed and deployed over the past five years hence it is too early to know whether there had been a substantive impact on the undergraduate curricula for Canadian schools of nursing. However, it is clear from the current small proportion of engaged faculty, much work still needs to be done. Our faculty and future graduates need to knowledgeable and appropriately skilled to meet the needs of an increasingly technologically-enabled health care delivery system. We all know it and we all need to do our part; working together, we are better!


Canadian Association of Schools of Nursing (CASN). (2012). Nursing informatics entry-to-practice competencies for registered nurses. Ottawa, ON: Author. Retrieved from

Canadian Association of Schools of Nursing (CASN). (2013). Nursing informatics teaching toolkit. Ottawa, ON: Author. Retrieved from

Canadian Association of Schools of Nursing (CASN). (2016). Consumer health solutions resource. Ottawa, ON: Author. Retrieved from

Dinsdale, S. (2016). Whiteboard animation: A student nurse’s story of social media use.  Retrieved from