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What’s it like to work on the Discover research programme?

Jess_HendersonAs part of our day in a life series exploring the different team roles here at ICHP, Innovation Delivery Lead, Jess Henderson, shares her day and more about Discover with us.

I first open my eyes…
My alarm goes at 630, and I groan. Mornings are not my thing. I get my act together, drop my sprog at nursery and jump on a train to work (with breakfast bar and piece of fruit in handbag). My train journeys are a really productive time of day for me (the only perk to commuting), allowing me to catch up on emails, update my to do list and get stuff done. I also spend a bit of time catching up on the news and twitter on my phone – usually to find out what blunder Trump/ Johnson/ Brexit has made over night, and to keep up to speed with what is happening in the health policy, innovation and research arenas.

 

I’m responsible for…
I have been at ICHP for over 3 and a half years and had the pleasure of working on a number of projects, including patient flow, neuro-rehabilitation and Discover. My work focuses solely now on Discover – which is the research platform we have developed to enable more efficient and effective research, ensuring that everyone in North West London is given their NHS Constitutional right to hear about research which is relevant to them. The programme itself has some unparalleled offerings based on the North West London’s Whole Systems Integrated Care dataset, which has been a phenomenal achievement delivered by local stakeholders. The dataset contains linked primary, secondary, community, mental health and social care data. This allows us to improve study feasibility, generate a register of people who want to hear about relevant research opportunities and provide seriously powerful research opportunities around retrospective, observational and real world evidence studies.

I am proud to have worked on this programme since its inception. It has been a challenging and yet rewarding piece of work with many learnings. The intricacies of using data for research and the corresponding layers of consent required are complex, coupled with the imagination needed to develop a compelling campaign to outline the benefits of joining Discover to the public. Our programme is now launched and we have a number of different priorities as a team. A large part of my work is to meet local stakeholders in Trusts, GP Practices, Universities and beyond, to raise awareness of the programme to staff, researchers and patients. Another area of focus is to generate studies – we have approved 7 studies since April, with a nice healthy pipeline being generated from academics, digital health, voluntary sector and pharmaceutical industry researchers.

 

My path took me…
This job is certainly not what I expected to end up doing, it is 100 times more rewarding! I started out at University studying law, and halfway through realised it wasn’t my cup of tea. I completed the degree and carried forward some valuable skills, and a passion for medical law and ethics. Interestingly Lord Darzi’s High Quality Care for All strategy work was one of the first things that piqued my interest for a career in health, and I am so proud now to be working in an organisation which he founded.

Following my degree I gained a graduate role in a boutique health consultancy which delivered market access for pharmaceutical companies alongside NHS transformation. I was thrown in at the deep end and I really do have to pay an enormous amount of credit to that consultancy as they very quickly developed my skills. During my time there, I worked with Buckinghamshire Healthcare NHS Trust on implementing the Health and Social Care Act 2012, developed reimbursement strategies for a range of drugs which gave me the opportunity for a fair amount of travel.

My next role took me to a private healthcare provider, working for the Managing Director providing support with projects, shareholder papers and any other important things that needed doing. I learned a lot about working in a large company and was lucky enough to attend Board Meetings where I learned all about the challenges of running a private hospital group – interestingly I don’t think it was that far away from the NHS despite the differences in funding streams and focus on elective care. I had the pleasure of working on our cancer strategy and securing backing for a new NHS bids team (please don’t shoot me!).

I applied for ICHP as the role and organisation seemed fascinating. Following a grilling from Axel, our MD, I was delighted to be offered the job, and I haven’t looked back.

 

A typical day for me…
I love this job as it is so varied. One morning you can be working with patients to ensure that our programmes meet their needs, the next I can be presenting to a group of CEOs or CCG Chairs about a programme, then speaking to a company about their research priorities. I have a lot of autonomy and spend a lot of time out and about visiting our partners, forging and building relationships.

 

My most memorable work moment…
One of my best moments was a business case presentation to NWL CCG Chairs about the neuro work I led, they were impressed and agreed to fund it as business as usual. This work has now been expanded pan London and I am really proud that patients are getting access to specialist care faster as a result.

 

The most frustrating part of my job…
I do have my frustrations. My job often depends on the goodwill of others. My project is unlikely to be top of their list, even if it is at the top of mine – and the healthcare arena can be quite politically charged. The time required to navigate those politics can stifle progress!

 

My best part of my job…
Despite the above I persevere – I know that what we are doing is for the benefit of our local population and beyond. My current work through Discover provides a fantastic research enabler and I hope it provides a foundation for some game changing research in the future. My favourite thing is that I get to learn something new every day, and I hope that doesn’t ever stop!