Dr Shera Chok – chief clinical information officer and associate medical director at Derbyshire Community Health Services NHS Trust – talks about her organisation’s e-prescribing project, explains why hammocks aren’t all they’re cracked up to be, and looks close to home for an actress to portray her in the film of her life.
Why did you become an NHS CCIO?
I have previously been a GP in Tower Hamlets for 20 years, and believe that effective ICT systems improve patient safety and experience, and help our teams do their jobs more effectively. ICT is more about people than technology.
Within your organisation, what is the most significant digital achievement of the past 12 months?
At Derbyshire Community Health Services we are working with our clinicians and IT leads to implement e-prescribing on our community inpatient wards. The clinical leadership and support for this on our wards has been inspiring. All our community teams use SystmOne and can work remotely. Around 80% of local practices are also on SystmOne which really helps strengthen communication and teamwork.
On a system level we have established a Derbyshire-wide CCIO network to support the delivery of our STP objectives.
What’s the biggest barrier to being a more effective CCIO?
It’s a relatively new role for me and many others. Organisational support, central support from NHS England, and developmental opportunities are so important if we are to create a generation of CCIOs who not only understand the technical side but are able to communicate with a wide range of clinicians, break down organisational barriers and influence culture and behaviour.
What’s the biggest barrier the NHS faces overall in achieving digital transformation?
The length of time it is taking to achieve interoperable and shared electronic patient records.
If you have one piece of advice for other NHS CCIOs, what would it be?
Build a group of IT clinical champions with the support of the board, as they will be a lasting legacy of your role. Appreciate your IT team and CIO, who all work incredibly hard.
Who in the NHS do you admire the most and why?
I have been lucky to work with superb clinical leaders including Sir Sam Everington [GP, chair of Tower Hamlets CCG, and a clinical advisor to the NHS England new care models team], Steve Ryan [currently medical director at Alder Hey Children’s NHS Foundation Trust], Rick Meredith [medical director at Derbyshire Community Health Services], Jackie Applebee [chair of Tower Hamlets local medical committee], Martha Leigh [governing board member at Tower Hamlets CCG] and Lord Bernie Ribeiro [former president of the Royal College of Surgeons]. They have all held on to their values, have strong conviction and are amazing role models.
If you were given £30 million to spend on digital transformation within your trust, where would that money go?
Supporting our clinical strategy and our STP objectives. I would use part of the money to develop a group of ICT clinical champions and to continue upskilling all our staff with the skills and confidence in using ICT systems. All our teams now have the ability to work remotely in the community which is important in rural and semi-rural settings.
I would use the rest of the money to improve how we analyse and use population health data to give clinicians across acute, primary and community care relevant information to improve outcomes – based on the work the clinical effectiveness group in East London has done.
What’s the worst job you’ve ever had and why?
Expedition medic in the Borneo rainforest. Six weeks covered in mud and leaves with no electricity, gas, running water or toilets. Sleeping in a hammock is highly over-rated. Leeches get everywhere. But I can now survive just about anywhere.
If you could invite three people, dead or alive, to dinner who would they be?
My grandparents, when they were young, to find out more about their early lives. My grandmother was so poor she collected leaves off the market floor to boil soup for the family when my dad was a child.
What’s your favourite piece of technology at home and why?
The kettle. Mornings start with tea. As you can tell, I am not high-tech.
In a film of your life, who would play you?
My sister, who is an actress and much younger than me!