Day in the life of an eHealth strategist

27 September 2017

Eleanor McColl works for NHS Greater Glasgow & Clyde Health Board as Interim Head of eHealth Strategy and Programmes. Her role focuses on delivering eHealth projects that support frontline clinicians to deliver improved patient care. We follow a typical day in her working life.

8am – Starting on a positive note

This morning I’m working out of our operational office in Paisley (just along the road from my official base). After a quick coffee, I get stuck into finishing the regular newsletter to our stakeholders, covering progress on our big programmes. There’s lots of positive stuff to report. Things like the West of Scotland Portal to Portal project, which is linking up our health records with four other health boards and the Golden Jubilee Hospital.

We’ve pretty much rolled this out now, and from a patient perspective it’s really impactful, particularly for cancer patients. If a patient lives in Lanarkshire, they might be attending the tertiary cancer centre in Glasgow for outpatient appointments, but receive chemotherapy back in their own health board. This links it all up.

I pass the newsletter on to our administrator and catch up on a few emails before this morning’s meeting.

9.30am – eHealth relationship manager meeting

The eHealth Senior Management Team are discussing how we can improve the support we give to staff across the health board. NHS Greater Glasgow is the largest board in the UK with over 38,000 members of staff spread across 35 hospitals and hundreds of GP surgeries, pharmacies and other health practices. With so much going on it’s really important that staff know who to talk to if they’re having problems.

We agree a new account management structure, with named leads for different services. I’m given responsibility for the South Sector, which includes the new Queen Elizabeth University Hospital (QEUH), and for mental health services. I’m particularly happy to be given QEUH as I was the eHealth Programme Manager for this new build for four years, and it’s like one of my children!

12 noon – I grab a takeaway coffee and sandwich for lunch

12.30pm – Back to business

I meet with a colleague, Alistair, to discuss how we’re doing recruiting facilitators and trainers for the new Medicine Reconciliation and Immediate Discharge Letter System we’re currently implementing. It sounds dry, but this system is going to deliver lots of benefits to junior doctors, while also supporting faster and safer discharge for patients.

Currently when new patients are admitted, junior doctors check the emergency care summary and write down what drugs patients are taking. Then they make decisions about what to keep, stop or change and input this into our reconciliation system. When the patient is discharged it all has to get keyed in again to another system.

Our new process will pull the data between systems automatically, reducing transcription errors and saving doctors precious time. Waiting for medicines to be sorted out is also one of the things that can really delay discharge. This work is setting the foundations for introducing HEPMA (Hospital Electronic Prescribing and Medicines Administration). It will take two years to plan and implement but will have a massive impact.

1pm – Video conference call with eHealth programme managers

We’re currently testing out using Office 365 and Skype for Business for our own team communications, with an eye to rolling it out to the whole organisation. We think it has potential to improve the way we work and communicate as an organisation, sharing documents online and facilitating remote working.

Our programme managers are all on different sites today (one is working from home) so we’ve scheduled a Skype meeting to allow us to review a document together and hold our end of week review. We tease our colleague and ask him if he’s wearing PJ bottoms, he assures us he’s not!

1.30pm – Jump in the car

I travel the 15 minutes up the motorway to QEUH for my next meeting and miraculously find a parking space just around the corner from the hospital (it’s not always so easy). 

2.00pm – Coffee with one of our clinical leads

I meet up with Catherine McGee for a quick coffee and catch up before our next meeting. She’s the Allied Health Professional eHealth Clinical Lead. Our clinical leads provide valuable support, helping us to engage with clinicians and understand their requirements, and contributing to how we develop and implement systems.

We talk about the community stroke team, who still use paper diaries and write everything down. We’re moving them to an electronic referral system which will really speed everything up. It’s hard to believe this isn’t already happening and for such a mobile team I think they’ll really benefit from being more digital.

2.45pm – TrakCare Delivery Group meeting

Trakcare is our patient administration system. It’s one of our core resources, allowing us to track the patient journey of everyone in our care. Today we’re demonstrating new functionality, which will help the handover process for junior doctors at the weekend. We’ve developed a kind of electronic observation system, allowing busy doctors to identify and better manage the sickest patients in the hospital who require a review to be carried out

The meeting is also a valuable opportunity for me to catch up with clinical colleagues and we chat for a while after the meeting is finished.

6pm – Home time

My husband phones to tell me that our Friday curry has been ordered and the drinks are chilling in the fridge. It doesn’t take me long to get home!


Eleanor McColl participated in A Mile in my shoes. Listen to Eleanor’s story

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