Benefits for doctors
As an appraiser I'm often asked ‘Should I use a toolkit or should i use the MAG MAF?’. So what are their advantages? Well the MAG MAF is good and has served us well and will continue to do so but it does have some limitations. It is a PDF and so is only available where the PDF is stored.
Online toolkits mean they are available wherever you are - in particular online toolkits enable you to update information almost instantly. This is especially true if the toolkit has an easy-to-use app that you can dictate into or you can easily email learning into your portfolio. This really helps with ‘Informal learning’ and its informal learning that is really difficult to document - normally documenting informal learning takes longer than the learning itself so this is where toolkits really score.
The ease of use of toolkits also mean appraisees are more likely to be recording learning and their supporting evidence in real time.This means appraisees are more likely to contribute to their appraisal all year round rather than cramming in the few weeks before their appraisal.
Benefits for appraisers
I’ve just mentioned some of the benefits of appraisals from the point of view of appraisees but do online toolkits have any benefits for the appraisers or appraisal teams? Well at first appraisers were cautious understandably that there was suddenly going to be a multitude of different toolkits all needing to be learnt and have different ways of documenting the evidence and so appraisers were cautious about toolkit use despite the benefits to the doctors themselves. However it has turned out that there are only a handful of toolkits that meet the requirements of the MAG MAF and so it hasn't really been that much of a disincentive.
There are also certain benefits of online toolkits to appraisers related to information security. As an appraiser I see lots of appraisals and some of my appraisees have been using email accounts from hotmail or gmail and not the secure nhs.net addresses. This has been due to problems with not being able to access emails at home or elsewhere which has made the nhs.net addresses useless. This can create problems as it isn’t good practice to be sending confidential documents over public email servers. If you use a toolkit all of the communication between appraiser and appraisee is done internally and behind the websites own security protocols making the transferral of data completely safe.