Dee Baker is a new Associate of the Faculty, and a Clinical Safety Officer at Central London Community Healthcare Trust as well as a registered Occupational Therapist. Dee was kind enough to chat to us about her interest in informatics, her thoughts on the Faculty, and how she became a CSO.
Please can you introduce yourself and explain what your current role is?
I am Dee Baker and I am a Clinical Safety Officer. I have just moved to Central London Community Healthcare Trust from Hertfordshire Community NHS Trust. My current role is to clinically risk assess the electronic care record (SystmOne) configuration. I have just started working with a new team who have not had a lot of CSO input historically. They have lots of ideas and are really keen to embrace clinical safety so I am really excited to have joined them.
As a recent Associate of the Faculty, could you let us know how you found out about the Faculty, what your expectations were when you joined, and how you think the Faculty can influence the informatics landscape?
I found out about the Faculty on Twitter! I am not a social media fan but I have found Twitter a really useful way of finding out about new developments in health IT. I am really hoping that the Faculty will be able to provide a clear framework for developing and maintaining competency standards. I frequently have to explain that I am an OT, a Clinical Systems Analyst and a CSO and I am constantly drawing on my skills and experience from all of these. However people seem to think you are either one of these so it can be difficult for them to understand the value you can bring. I am looking forward to when clinical informatics roles become more mainstream and recognised through a specific skill set and competency framework.
As well as post-graduate training, I think the Faculty has a huge opportunity to influence undergraduate training so newly qualified clinicians leave university more digitally aware.
How did your career in informatics start and what led you to become a CSO?
Completely by accident! I was the therapy lead for the inpatient units in Hertfordshire during the project rollout of moving from paper records to SystmOne. I saw an opportunity to improve the flow of information between the community and inpatient teams and to ensure therapy interventions were recorded in a robust way, so I became heavily involved. I loved it as it encompassed everything I was interested in as a senior clinician – professional record keeping, outcomes, quality, patient safety etc. I therefore decided to leave my therapy lead role and become an analyst in the clinical systems team, as I wanted to learn how to configure the system. As only 1 of 2 clinicians in this team I then completed my Clinical Safety Officer training through NHS Digital. Even a small change in an electronic record can introduce significant clinical risk. I am really passionate that we keep our wits about us and include clinical risk assessments during all stages of health IT procurement and deployment.
What benefits can you see informatics providing for Occupational Therapists, and how do you think we can encourage more OTs to get involved in informatics?
OTs work across the whole of health and social care. From preventing an acute hospital admission to facilitating participation in in meaningful activities as part of social prescribing, OTs focus is independence and occupational wellbeing. The use of structured clinical terminology and how information is shared and flows between systems will be key for OTs.
Many other OT core skills sit very well with informatics. Our activity analysis skills enable us to appropriately identify digital solutions for a specific patient need. Additionally, our functional assessment skills enable us to apply a human factors approach to designing and implementing digital solutions. Clinical risk assessment is a day to day OT skill also – again, a natural fit for a Clinical Safety Officer role.
In future, what informatics developments would you like to see, or be part of, to improve existing services within health and care?
I am interested in how standardised and (patient reported) outcome measures can be used to demonstrate the effectiveness of a service and to predict future need. These need to be reliably inputted in the first place though so an appropriate format and accurate coding is key.
I feel record access and the patient being able to input into their record could really change how services are provided (especially in community rehab settings and for long term condition management). However there probably needs to be some work on how we teach record keeping so that documentation remains robust and safe (does not cause harm), but is accessible and understandable to the patient.
I would really like to see more human factors input into system design and use. Information out will only be as good as the information that goes in. Clinical systems are not intuitive and easy to use. Then more knowledge we can apply to improving this, the easier it will be for clinicians to use and ultimately safer for the patient.
Finally, what guidance do you wish you had been able to offer yourself when starting out in informatics?
Initially it was difficult moving to a clinical systems analyst role from a clinical lead role and being expected not to use or apply those clinical / senior management / leadership skills. I wish I had not felt so overwhelmed by the extent of the technical skills around me. In fact, nobody had the skill set I had so I wish I had been more confident and assertive in applying these skills. As I became CSO this improved, but it made me realise there is a definite need to harness clinical skills in technical / informatics roles and bring these two worlds together.