The global skills and competency framework for the digital world

Extending SFIA support to clinical roles in digital healthcare

New skills proposed for SFIA 9 | Further opportunities to extend SFIA coverage


SFIA (Skills Framework for the Information Age) is a well-established, trusted, and actively maintained framework that provides a structured approach to defining and managing skills and competencies across various professional domains. First published in 2000, SFIA has evolved through successive updates with expert input from its global users, ensuring it remains relevant and useful to industry and business needs.

Originally developed for the ICT community, SFIA has expanded through contributions from a worldwide community of practitioners. It now defines the skills and competencies required by a range of professionals who design, develop, implement, manage, and protect the data and technology that drive the digital world.

The rapid advancements in digital technologies, data, machine learning, and AI have blurred the lines between the professional skills needed for clinical and non-clinical roles.

While SFIA has a proven track record in non-clinical roles, its application to clinical roles in digital healthcare presents an opportunity to enhance workforce management and professional development in this sector.

Extending SFIA to clinical roles can bridge the skills gap, ensuring that both clinical and non-clinical professionals are equipped to meet the demands of the evolving digital health landscape. 


Extending SFIA coverage into clinical roles in digital healthcare offers numerous benefits, including standardisation, professional development, and strategic workforce planning. By leveraging the proven framework of SFIA and collaborating with industry experts, healthcare organisations can ensure that their clinical workforce is equipped with the necessary skills and competencies to deliver high-quality patient care in a rapidly evolving digital landscape. This approach not only enhances the efficiency and effectiveness of healthcare delivery but also supports the continuous professional growth of clinical professionals.

Key points on applying SFIA to digital healthcare roles

1. Proven framework for non-clinical roles

  • SFIA has been successfully used to develop and maintain skills frameworks and job/career architectures for non-clinical roles in digital healthcare, such as IT operations, data management, and cybersecurity
  • The framework’s flexibility and comprehensive nature make it suitable for a wide range of roles, ensuring that skills and competencies are clearly defined and aligned with organisational needs

2. Reusability of SFIA Skills for clinical roles

  • Many SFIA skills can be adapted for clinical roles with the addition of specialised clinical knowledge. For example, skills in data analysis, data science, scientific modeling information management, and cybersecurity are relevant to both clinical and non-clinical settings with the addition of knowledge and contextualisation for clinical applications
  • This adaptability allows for a seamless integration of SFIA into clinical roles, leveraging existing skills and a proven 7-level framework while addressing the unique needs of the healthcare environment.

3. Identification of additional skills for clinical Roles

  • Clinical roles may require additional skills that are specific to healthcare. These skills can be developed and added to the SFIA framework in collaboration with industry experts and professional bodies
  • By incorporating these specialised skills, SFIA can provide a more comprehensive and relevant framework for clinical roles, ensuring that all necessary competencies are covered.
  • For example - in SFIA 9 we have proposed skills for clinical coding and for records management
SFIA skill - name Code Levels SFIA skill - concise description Changes for SFIA 9
Analytical classification and coding ANCC 2 - 6 Interpreting information and assigning classifications or labels based on domain-specific knowledge, standards, and guidelines to enable data analysis and use. New for SFIA 9
Records management RMGT 1 - 5 Planning, implementing and managing the full life cycle of organisational records. New for SFIA 9
Data management DATM 2 - 6 Developing and implementing plans, policies, and practices that control, protect and optimise the value and governance of data assets. updated to include reference to
  • 'developing and enforcing data governance policies to ensure data quality, compliance, and ethical usage'
  • 'update to reference 'analysing information structures, including logical analysis of taxonomies, ontologies, data, metadata, and industry reference data'
Data modelling DTAN 2 - 5 Developing models and diagrams to represent and communicate data requirements and data assets.

updated to include reference to

  • 'incorporating industry reference data standards to ensure consistency, interoperability, and compliance.'

4. Benefits of extending SFIA to clinical roles

  • Standardisation and clarity: Extending SFIA to clinical roles can standardise job descriptions and role profiles, providing clarity and consistency across the healthcare sector. This helps set clear expectations, reduces role overlaps, and enables skills-based organisations to function more effectively.
  • Professional development: Using the SFIA framework allows healthcare professionals to identify and develop different strands of professional growth:
    • Professional skills: Developing increased responsibility, accountability, and impact in a healthcare environment as described in SFIA.
    • Healthcare/clinical knowledge: Vital for clinical roles, although outside SFIA's scope, this knowledge is essential for effective healthcare delivery.
    • Behaviours and workplace skills: Enhancing skills such as communication, collaboration, leadership, and planning to improve overall workplace effectiveness.
  • Career pathways: The seven-level structure of SFIA supports clear career pathways for clinical professionals, helping them understand how they can progress within the organisation and what skills they need to develop. This framework enables both specialist and managerial career pathways, offering a transparent roadmap for career advancement.
  • Workforce planning: SFIA helps in identifying skill gaps and planning for future needs, ensuring that the healthcare workforce remains capable of meeting evolving challenges. This proactive approach to workforce planning supports a more resilient and adaptable healthcare system.

5. Collaborative development with industry

  • Extending SFIA to clinical roles requires collaboration with healthcare professionals, employers, and professional bodies to ensure that the framework accurately reflects the skills and competencies needed in clinical settings.