Will Smart is the director of information-management and technology (IMT) at the Royal Free Hospital. Smart has also studied at Aston University, London Metropolitan University and most recently at the Royal Holloway University in London.
Earlier this year V3 spoke with Smart about the Trust's £2m deal with Unify, formerly Siemens Enterprise Communications, to provide staff with a range of OpenScape unified collaboration (UC) tools in an effort to boost efficiency.
V3: What does you day-to-day role involve?
Smart: I work with healthcare professionals to help them improve the quality, effectiveness and efficiency of their services for patients. My day-to-day role usually involves meetings with various people from different departments to look at all aspects of the strategic management and delivery of informatics services to this large London Teaching Hospital. My portfolio includes ICT and analytics services.
What would be your dream job?
I would be a writer on a sunny island.
Which mobile phone and tablet do you currently use?
I’m very much an Apple enthusiast. I have both an iPhone and an iPad.
Which person do you most admire in the IT industry?
Before he passed away, I thought Steve Jobs was an inspirational leader. I particularly admired his single-minded focus on doing the right thing for his customers.
Which technology has had the biggest impact on your working life?
The whole concept of content management and enterprise information management is really exciting for us at Royal Free. As an industry, health providers have so much information to deal with on a day-to-day basis.
Healthcare professionals need to be able to access it quickly and when needed. For a complex hospital environment like ours, managing patient care using paper case notes has been very challenging logistically. Tracking and moving paper case notes across a large physical estate has made it difficult to ensure these are available where and when they are needed and has required a large administrative team.
We’ve been working with software company OpenText, and implementing its Content Suite to digitise case notes and improve the quality of the services we provide while reducing costs. This has had a great impact on the hospital and we believe it will provide the platform to enable us to digitise other paper-based corporate records, driving further efficiencies.
What’s been the highlight of your career so far?
It might sound clichéd but I do feel that all of the best bits are still to come. Part of my job requires you to be constantly on the move, so we are continually working on different projects and always moving onto the next challenge.
What was your first job?
My first job was doing a milk round. It was very enjoyable with little stress, although I was never too keen on the early mornings!
What’s your favourite thing about working in the healthcare industry?
I really enjoy how we are continually innovating and how we are applying new technology to ultimately make patients better. It’s about how technology can influence processes that speed up diagnosis, providing a clear 360-degree view of the patient to create efficiency. Seeing first hand the positive impacts of technology and how it is helping patients is one of the most rewarding aspects of the job.
What will be the next big innovation of the coming years?
Wearable technology is certainly very interesting, with this set to influence our everyday lives and almost become a fashion accessory. It will be interesting to watch how Google Glass will develop and what this might mean.
I’ve also been using a pedometer to track how many steps I do each day and I’ve been thinking how might this link in with analytics. Could it influence the analysis of healthcare records? It would be interesting to explore.
What do you enjoy doing when you finish work?
I like to unwind and relax by spending time with my family or going to the pub for a drink.
What was the last book you read and was it any good?
Harlan Coben The Innocent; he writes great stories. I’m currently reading a very different book, Do No Harm by neurosurgeon Henry Marsh, which is a brutally honest account of his work.
Who is your favourite band or musician?
Without a doubt, Bob Dylan.
Twitter, Facebook or Google+?
For me it's Twitter. I tend not to post a lot but I use it as a source of information.
The Guard. It’s an Irish dark comedy film written and directed by John Michael McDonagh.
Windows or Mac OS?
Windows at work and a Mac OS at home.
On-premise or cloud?
Our clinical systems are all hosted on premise. We are still working through how to best utilise cloud services for health.
What’s holding back women from entering the IT profession?
In healthcare there are a large number of women who work in this profession. In IT more broadly it’s a different story and I expect there are a variety of reasons for this. The good news is that it’s starting to change and this is certainly a welcome move as we need a diverse workforce.
How can we get more school children interested in IT careers?
There needs to be a clear connection placed on IT and creativity. It goes hand-in-hand. Schools need to show how technology can be used to inspire ideas and create something tangible which drives innovation. By focusing on being creative this will help inspire the next generation.
Did you always grow up wanting to work in IT?
No. My education was in business management and analytics so I came into the profession from that background.
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