Let's Talk, NP

Dr Tamara Everington, CCIO, on Hampshire Hospitals improvement strategy

Welcome back to another podcast episode of HTN Let’s Talk!

In this episode we interview Dr Tamara Everington, Chief Clinical Information Officer and Haematology Consultant at Hampshire Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust. We speak about their improvement framework, what to think about before buying a digital solution, how to measure improvement and much more.

To begin with, Tamara touched upon her role and career in healthcare: “I’m a doctor and I specialised in blood diseases which effect people from cradle to grave. Then I got really interested in helping organisations to improve their practice in making change.

“Part of that, we started looking at the whole digital piece, and how we can help people to digitise their systems in a way that really works for the end user, but has the backend effect of getting great data out. As we introduced those digital systems, we realised that sometimes there can be a tendency to leap to a digital solution when we haven’t truly understood the problems we are facing. That if we have a better understanding of the problems, maybe the digital solution we thought, might not be quite right. I now lead the improvement team at Hampshire Hospitals, where we have introduced an improvement framework to approach any problem that we are facing.”

Expanding on the improvement framework, Tamara explained that they have an ‘everyone is an improver’ theme: “I really love this. There is a bit of me that wants to talk about Star Wars here, and may the force be with you, I sometimes think the real missed opportunity in the NHS is to really effectively harness the brains and immense creative powers of all the people we have got working with us.

She added: “Often when we think about organisational change, we think about clever people at the top making a decision and making things happen. But the reality is, most change happens on a day to day basis at ground level.”

When buying a digital solution, there are many things to think about. Tamara said: “There are a lot of products out there these days, and often when you look at a product you get shown all of the really positive aspects of it, and you think it’s really impressive, but it’s quite hard to reconcile that with the business you’re actually doing, and spot the things that may not work. It’s also particularly important, especially nowadays, to make sure our information is connected… it’s really important before you consider getting a new product, that you take time to think what are the problems you are trying to address.

To understand the problems, staff from all areas help to understand and solve. “You get all these people together and you support them. That way everyone is an improver and we talk about quality improvement. We’re on a trajectory to try and train over 6000 people in our organisation in quality improvement methodology.

“What we would like to do in an ideal world is share that learning. By creating a structure that you can gather all that learning and expertise into one place and start spotting the opportunities for cross fertilisation, and use these people who have done improvement projects that influence others.”

The discussion moved on to how they measure improvement, and how the digital team at the trust works with the communication team. “There is so much change going on all the time that it is often quite hard to communicate with people across the organisation to help them understand what’s actually going on. If you set out on an improvement project, it’s not only your job to do the improvement project, it’s also your job to participate in the communication of that. With time, we are thinking about this more and positive ways of doing it.”

When asked what she has learned so far, Tamara said: “I think I’ve learned there is an incredible untapped resource of creativity that gives us an opportunity to make a real difference.”

Many thanks to Tamara for joining us!