Let's Talk

Jeffrey Wood, Deputy Director of ICT at The Princess Alexandra Hospital NHS Trust

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

For this edition of our podcast, we interviewed Jeffrey Wood, Deputy Director of ICT at The Princess Alexandra Hospital NHS Trust. Jeffrey discusses his career, digital programmes across the hospital and ICS, challenges he has faced, how to develop digital across a workforce and more.

To start off, Jeffrey talked about his current role and career in health: “I started life a long time ago in the Royal Navy, before joining a number of private sector industries. Then I moved to public sector probably about 10-15 years ago, working in local authorities, county councils and then to the NHS… so it’s been quite a journey for me to get used to the NHS way of working and to understand why we do things in a certain way.”

In terms of The Princess Alexandra, Jeffrey highlighted how it is a forward thinking trust: “We are one of the eight hospitals that were originally told we could build a brand new hospital. Being in one of those top eight gives us a unique ability to try proof of concepts and try out lots of different things.” He added that coming from the private sector, there are “masses” of ideas he would like to put into the NHS.

Princess Alexandra has many digital programmes running throughout the trust. Jeffrey explains these in great detail, highlighting their new electronic health record as a main project. “We bought a new electronic health record which is one of the biggest spends that a NHS trust has to do,” he said. “So that project will take us a couple of years.”

They are also doing a lot of work with automating their transactional processes to “make sure that we can be more efficient and take out some of the manual error that can occur.”

Jeffrey added: “We are doing a lot of work with intelligent watches and tablets for our community midwives who are out in the field to try and improve things for them… we have picked up a clinical communications tool which will take away all of our bleeps and emergency pagers which is a major step forward for us.”

In terms of challenges, he said: “We have a lot of people that have been running without technology for a long time and we sometimes forget that what we think is really easy will be a struggle for some people. Technology can be really useful to record things and to look back, but it becomes hard to actually input all of that data.”

However, on the flip side to that, an element that has gone well is that “a lot of new junior doctors are very excited about new technology… they have grown up with having that fingertip information. To provide that to them and to see how they use it in ways that we had not even thought of is what I really enjoy.”

On developing digital across a workforce, Jeffrey said: “We’re really fortunate at Princess Alexandra that our Chief Clinical Information Officer and Head of Digital Nursing have joined us. Before them we found it difficult to get the information out to the right places, and to encourage people to use things.”

To support people with technology, Jeffrey described how “we have set-up our equivalent to an Apple squad – we have our own tech bar that we have on a Tuesday and Thursday morning where anyone can drop in and ask any questions to the IT team in a nice lounge type environment… and that’s made big difference.”

Next, we spoke about the growing issue of waiting lists. Jeffrey commented, “That’s always going to be to be difficult. We are in very a difficult place in running in an old hospital, which is why we are after a new hospital.”

He added: “We have taken on board cloud telephony which gives us a customer-focused management system contact centre for booking our waiting list people in.”

Jeffrey highlighted how the NHS has learnt not only from other industries but also from other hospital trusts: “When I first joined three and a half years ago, we were going to put in a new piece of software that I knew other trusts had worked with. I spoke to my team about who we know at that trust and said let’s go and talk to them… I’m seeing that happen very regularly now. We have a number of talks during the week about what we’ve done with other trusts and we pull ideas from them and they pull ideas from us.”

Regarding what success looks like in digital, he said: “For me it would be that patient portal, that would probably be the one resounding success that I would really like to get right. I think the NHS has come a really long way in helping people get used to the idea of having information at their fingertips.”

In terms of future tech, Jeffrey added, “Proof of concepts is something I’m always thinking of and how we can get the best from new technologies that are coming out.”

Concluding the interview, Jeffrey commented on working for the NHS. “I think the NHS is a career. Most other places you go to are jobs,” he said. “With the NHS, you need to want to help people and make a difference. It is such a satisfactory feeling when you know you are making that difference.”

Many thanks to Jeffrey for joining us!