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Interview: From healthcare to healthcare IT provider

One route into IT is to take your knowledge of a certain sector to an IT firm that specialises in it. This is Katy Cain’s story

The coronavirus has shone a spotlight on the heroes of the NHS who have worked continuously over the past year to bring the pandemic under control, but Covid-19 also highlighted areas of inefficiency.

Last year, healthcare software specialist Alcidion introduced Miya Precision. The company describes Miya as a smart clinical asset for the NHS that provides a way for hospitals to take data from disparate sources and consolidate it using the Fast Healthcare Interoperability Resources (FHIR) standard. According to Alcidion, the standard enables different IT systems to be accessed and used in a uniform way across hospital departments, NHS trust locations and at a regional level.

Katy Cain joined Alcidion from East Lancashire Hospitals NHS Trust, where she held a wide range of posts in clinical roles, most recently as a modern matron for the trust’s cardiology directorate. Cain joined the smart health tech provider in a core role as a clinical consultant primarily working with the UK team.

Cain began her nursing career in primary care. “Nursing was a great profession that fitted in with family dynamics,” she says, adding that she shared childcare duties with her husband and took the opportunity to study internal courses and develop her professional skills.

“In 2012, with the children at school, I wanted to add a few more strings to my nursing bow and went into learning and education,” says Cain. “I still kept working but I also provided training in areas such as looking after medical students and new nurses, and offering resuscitation education and training.”

She also began looking at the cultural reform, support and quality management measures that could be used to improve patient care on wards. This led to a two-year role managing a ward specialising in haematology and chemotherapy patients. “I’ve always been very focused on improving care for patients and the wellbeing of the clinical staff, so in 2016 I took a matron’s course in cardiology,” says Cain.

She describes the matron’s role in a hospital as more of a managerial position, but had always wanted to maintain her clinical skills and cooperate with the clinical teams. This has continued since Cain left the health service. “Being clinical is something I’ve always enjoyed,” she says.

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Since leaving East Lancashire hospitals, Cain has supported the Covid-19 vaccination programme, doing vaccinations for key workers. She also recently did some shifts in the coronary care unit.

Describing her move to Alcidion, Cain says: “When I started to look at Alcidion 18 months ago, I really liked their values. They are extremely clinician-focused and want to improve patient care. I admired their vision of looking at how to transform and support NHS clinicians, and I can see the benefits that technology from Alcidion can bring to hospitals.  I felt this was a real opportunity for me.”

The NHS relies heavily on IT systems, but, in her experience of working in hospitals, the systems are clunky and inefficient, which means clinicians can often waste valuable time battling with poor IT. Such time could be better spent looking after patients.

“The systems have different sign-ins, different logins and don’t talk to each other,” says Cain. “It’s frustrating as a nurse that you don’t have the toolkit you need. As part of keeping up to date with what’s coming, I’ve always been an early adopter of new technology if it can help us in nursing.

“Doctors and nurses no longer have time to work around technology not designed for their needs,” she says. “Whether it’s using clever technology so staff don’t need to continuously remember hundreds of things, or to free up clinical time at one of the most pressured moments in the history of the health service, by joining Alcidion I felt I could help to make a difference.”

Cain’s new role at Alcidion is as a clinical consultant, working closely with clinicians. “I look at their requirements, which is used to build into our roadmaps for products,” she says. “I’ll also be working as the clinical lead when products go live at an NHS trust.” 

For Cain, the clinical experience she has gained working in the NHS over the past 20 years puts her in a good position when it comes to looking at the various software systems clinicians need to use as part of their day-to-day job – to understand not only why they work in a particular way, but also how the systems can be made to work more seamlessly.

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