Meet our featured member for February... Peggy Edwards

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We are delighted to introduce our featured member for February - Peggy Edwards, Chief Nursing Informatics Officer at Aneurin Bevan University Health Board. Peggy kindly took the time to speak with us about how she got involved in informatics and the key aspects of her work.

Hi Peggy - please could you introduce yourself and let us know your current role?

I am Peggy Edwards and I have recently moved from being the Head of Clinical & Informatics Assurance to a Chief Nursing Information Officer role in a health board in Wales. I am an old theatre / ITU nurse who moved into risk management and patients’ safety by accident really and then made a career out of it. The last 10 years I have been working in the informatics sphere being the clinical safety officer role initially and more latterly leading on the overarching assurance processes. I have just started my next informatics venture by moving back to nursing as a CNIO.

You’ve been with the Faculty for a little while now. What first led you to join the Faculty, and what has your experience been of being a member?

I joined the Faculty because I was looking for a support group and access to subject matter experts who can provide guidance, support and expert experience in the field of informatics. I also had a few colleagues and friends who are Fellows and they badgered me!

As an informatician working for the NHS Wales Informatics Service, how did you begin working in informatics and what drew you to it?

I was asked to support the predecessor to NWIS with embedding a clinical risk management system to ensure the safe development, design and implementation of informatics services. This was and largely still is a unique role in the NHS in Wales. I have to be honest I didn’t know a lot about digital services but I did know about patient safety and risk management – so how hard could it be.

What are some key project that NWIS has been working on recently that you’d like to tell our members about?

The main emphasis of my role in the last 5 years was to review, develop and implement an assurance process which was holistic in nature but also proportional to the development in question. Leading a team of subject matter experts of patient safety managers, incident investigation lead and validation experts meant that we had a pivotal role in the safe development, design and implementation of digital services in the whole of NHS Wales.

The Faculty is an organisation for all four UK nations and would like to bring informatics in Wales, Scotland, Northern Ireland and England together as much as we can. Do you have any thoughts on how we can best support collaboration in clinical informatics throughout the UK?

At the end of the day patients are patients regardless of the postcode they live in, what differs is the structure and politics that sit around health care. We have different structures, policies, strategies and standards.  I believe we can collaborate to bring standards more aligned, bringing best practice together, identifying standards which should and can be aligned and lobby the powers that be to make sure we have consistency across the four nations.

Lastly, what advice would you give to those who would like to pursue a career in clinical informatics, but may not know how or don’t consider themselves informaticians?  

You may not know what an informatician does or mean, but if you work in health care you know what information you and your colleagues need to support patient care. You know what gets in the way of real business of treating and caring for patients. You also know how frustrating it is to redo work, attend to multiple requests for data which is virtually the same and which is all manual. You also know how you can improve processes to improve the quality of patient care – well you are most of the way there, take that step to make a difference. Find a pet subject or process, work out what is happening and what out what could happen to improve safety and quality – then tell someone about it, promote it, get to know who does IT in the organisation, not just the technical team but the CCIO or CNIO become a champion for digital and then fly into a new career.