Exploring the ‘Clinical World’ outside of my ‘Data’ Window

Author: Thomas MitchellDate: 8 months 1 week Ago

Working as a Financial Analyst in a Costing Team blessed with access to a wealth of electronic data, I have a real opportunity to drive changes in our services and make a positive impact to patient care. As a Value Maker, I’m always striving to achieve this, and recognise it requires a proactive approach to understanding the reality behind our information to make it come alive on my screen. Recently, I was fortunate to do this by spending some time shadowing colleagues within A&E.

Initially, the A&E Service Manager showed me around the department, provided an insight into his role and took me to a ‘Daily Operational Performance’ meeting. Witnessing the dedication and collaboration that takes place to secure a patient an appropriate bed in a ‘pressured environment’ was both humbling and fascinating.

I also got to see the flow of patients through the department, from observing the Receptionists collecting and entering their information on arrival, and the role the Charge Nurse plays in deciding on the appropriateness of referring them to Minor Injuries. I then shadowed a consultant and a registrar who explained a ‘typical’ patient’s journey and the electronic dashboards used to track the number of people waiting and their wait times.

Miraculously, there was only 1 patient waiting to be seen during my visit, much to the department’s surprise. Our A&E colleagues are very superstitious, and like ‘Voldemort’, uttering the word ‘quiet’ was a big no-go; I didn’t want to be the one to bring the curse!

That very weekend, I sustained a footballing injury and broke my foot, so became a ‘customer’ of the department at the start of the following week! Despite having to wear this year’s ‘must have’ fashion accessory of a giant boot for the next 6 weeks, my personal agony was offset by being able to experience life as a patient, and seeing how other services like Radiology all work together to support recovery.

Shadowing in A&E was an incredible experience, and it helped me to appreciate that there are ‘real lives’ behind the data I work with. It was also a reminder of how precious an institution the NHS is, and how fortunate I am to be supporting its evolution to ensure its existence for future generations. This isn’t the first time I’ve shadowed an area of the hospital and it won’t be the last. The satisfaction you get from realising that we all play a role in patient care, and knowing that improving your own knowledge of the world outside of your ‘window’ can contribute to this goal is immeasurable. I’d recommend it to all my fellow Value Makers, but breaking your own foot to do this might be going a ‘step’ too far!