Equity, analytics, and digital government: Highlights from the 2022 CLEAR Annual Educational Conference

Discussions over inclusion, data quality, and digital government dominated much of the annual regulatory forum.

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The Council on Licensure, Enforcement, and Regulation (CLEAR) held its 2022 Annual Educational Conference this September in Louisville, KY. The conference, CLEAR’s largest annual event, focuses on providing educational sessions for members. This year, over 400 attendees from around the world participated in the three-day forum.

Though discussions often coalesced around several specific issues (many involving changes brought on by the pandemic), sessions at the 2022 conference were grouped into four basic areas of inquiry:

  • Regulatory Administration and Governance
  • Compliance, Discipline, and Enforcement
  • Testing and Examinations
  • Entry to Practice Standards and Continuing Competence

 

Pushing for an equitable regulatory framework

Equity, diversity, and inclusion (EDI), one of the conference’s most talked-about topics, was the subject of a session hosted by representatives from Engineers and Geoscientists BC. Participants learned about the basics of EDI expectations as outlined in the organization’s recently released professional practice guidelines. Though the guidelines are written for regulators in British Columbia, they offer universal insights on EDI principles that can be useful to regulators everywhere.

Presenters from the College of Licensed Practical Nurses of Alberta (CLPNA) also hosted a session regarding EDI principles, framing them as particularly important in the wake of a pandemic that has drawn attention to disparities between different cultural groups around the world.

One of the most important steps regulators can take toward equitability, CLPNA speakers said, is creating an EDI committee to focus specifically on the issue. From there, agencies can build trust and offer safe spaces for those who feel uncomfortable discussing diversity-related topics in the workplace.

Another presentation, Culturally Safe Investigation Practices, focused on equity-related concerns in complaint investigations. Speakers from the College of Physicians and Surgeons of British Columbia (CPSBC), the Washington Medical Commission (WMC), and the College of Veterinarians of Ontario (CVO) broke down the ways EDI principles factor into investigations and the ways agencies can work to avoid bias in every aspect of their practice.

Realizing the promise of data in digital government

Digital government dominated much of the conversation, too, with several presentations breaking down the promise and function of data in regulatory decision-making. This included Thentia’s own Chris Woodill, Natasha Giuffre, and Bonnie Campo, who participated in a panel discussion entitled Performance Measurement and Data 101.

The session covered the basics of data-driven government, including the importance of data quality and the ways data can be shared with the public and other regulatory stakeholders. Data quality, at times marred by paper-based processes, bad technology implementations, and overworked employees, can be improved significantly with just a handful of basic measures, according to the presentation. This can include moving away from manual processes and using migration to clean up legacy data.

Thentia’s Lunch and Learn session revolved around the value of regulatory work and the measures agencies take to make the most of their resources. Among the measures discussed was the automation of low-risk procedures to save time and improve accuracy. With a single, digital platform, regulators have the potential to substantially cut license processing times and redirect staff toward tasks that require human judgment.

AI in Testing, hosted by representatives from Ascend Learning, PSI Services, and the National Board of Medical Examiners (NBME), offered an overview of the uses of artificial intelligence in licensing and certification. High-level experts in regulatory assessment weighed in on the promise of AI to construct exams and automate their scoring. Presenters also discussed the combination of AI with human review to achieve optimal outcomes and the emergent concerns over fairness and bias in AI-related processes.

Speakers from Revolution AMC and the U.K.’s Health and Social Care Professions Council (HCPC) delivered a more wide-ranging presentation on the advantages of digital engagement in the world of regulation. The session included real-life examples of digital technology streamlining processes for stakeholders from every corner of the regulatory field, as well as a closing discussion about the potential of AI and the quality of the datasets that will feed its development.

With the specter of COVID-19 looming overhead, participants in the 2022 Annual Educational Conference often found themselves discussing issues the pandemic had laid bare – issues like equity in licensure and digitization in the public sector. On the whole, however, the conference offered a broad, rich, productive forum in which regulators from around the world discussed the challenges they face and the measures they take to overcome them.

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