Developing and launching products is a team activity, it involves the efforts of development, marketing, sales and support functions. The tasks performed by these functions can’t happen at random times, they all need to be co-ordinated.
We spoke to Jaki Allen Health Records and Transcription Digital Programme Manager at Alder Hey Children’s Hospital to discuss leadership, the NHS’ digital transformation and more.
Jaki’s story is part of a series of articles highlighting the careers of female tech leaders within the NHS. We’re bringing together the stories of these courageous leaders to prove that the route to leadership is never a straight line.
With a career that has been focused on transformation, Jaki has created change at massive institutions like BT and the NHS.
“10 years ago in the oil and gas industry I worked on a project to automate the delivery of Ink Cartridge replacements straight from the supplier and the delivery of a ‘tap in – tap out’ system for printing. That was it for me. I was bitten by the transformation bug.”
From there Jaki has become an advocate for digital transformation and rationalisation, carrying her passion for change into her latest role in the NHS as programme manager for the Health Records and Transcription services at Alder Hey Children’s hospital. At the heart of Jaki’s delivery of this programme lies a focus on vision and scope.
“I’m not techie so I have to come up with an idea and then bring people on that journey with me. It’s the art of the possible.”
With the current focus being on an RPA for transcription services that clinicians and medical staff can use to cut out some of the busy work they’re doing, Jaki is leading a team of AI and Automation experts with a clear vision.
“There is very little that bots, systems, and processes automation can’t do.”
Innovation can’t happen in a vacuum and Jaki, who brings passion and love to her role, creates a working environment in which innovation can thrive.
“I think when you have that passion, not just for the job that you do, but for changing the way things happen, you naturally look for different approaches.”
Jaki who has worked in both the private and public sector has a rather unique perspective on the two. While traditionally the NHS has been seen as being behind the curve in terms of innovation, Jaki is now seeing the paradigm shift.
“There are lightbulb moments coming on now all over the NHS from clinical systems to finance systems to HR systems. The NHS hasn’t walked the last five years, it’s sprinted.”
COVID-19, for all the pressure that it has put on the NHS, has left the door ajar for a new wave of digital innovation that would otherwise be left quietly knocking. This digital innovation isn’t just making the lives of hardworking healthcare professionals, but it’s also creating a better experience for patients.
“When you think about a 9-month pregnant woman with gestational diabetes. She’d normally have to keep getting on the bus, be told everything is fine and go home. By providing remote monitoring we can easily maintain a standard of care for all patients.”
Running a programme involves bringing people together and enabling them to do their best possible work towards a common goal. For Jaki, who primarily works with technical professionals, programme management becomes a very fine balancing act.
“Not only do I have to deal with the tech side of things, and making sure that we don’t miss a beat. I have to deal with the clinical risk side of things when we launch.”
For Jaki, who will be the first to admit that she isn’t particularly technically astute, it becomes more of a question of grit. Are you prepared to roll your sleeves up no matter how messy it gets? On both the technical and transformational side of her role, she surrounds herself with people who she believes in.
“We go to meetings where I might promise the earth and I’ll say to the team: ‘I know you can deliver and I’ve got your back’. And it helps them to not only build their confidence, which is massive, but it’s also showing them a standard of quality that we need to have.”
Having just finished a mentoring programme at Liverpool’s Women’s Hospital where Jaki helped mentor four apprentices through a project management apprenticeship, Jaki is reminded of the sheer commitment and grit needed to be successful as a healthcare leader.
“You’ve got to be thick-skinned. I’ve slipped and tripped and stumbled through some projects. But it’s only prepared me better for future programmes. So from a leadership point of view, always be prepared to do more. If you’re a junior, don’t clock watch, take on more than you think you can because you can do more.”
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