My CSO Journey – using my experiences to influence change

As a nurse I didn’t realise I would be using my risk assessment skills in the way I am today, but when I look back at it, when we recorded patient centric care planning and nursing notes in our PAS, which effectively was our mini Electronic Patient Record (EPR), how much easier it was to read nursing notes than the differing styles of handwriting (mine being one of the worse!!).

That then took me on a journey into digital health and I haven’t looked back since. I became an integral part of a digital health project to deploy an EPR into my local Trust gaining priceless experience and cutting my teeth submersing myself into the functionality and how it would support our clinical practices and workflow.

Then the opportunity arose to become a Clinical Specialist for a digital health manufacturer, IMS Maxims. How different and exciting this would prove to be! Once I joined the private sector and stepped into the void my whole world changed without the comfort and security of the NHS.

Straight away I was thrust into product demonstrations, digital health conferences, strategic meetings on product roadmap and again exposed to the world of IT from a completely different perspective. I was now influencing design and development which would ultimately effect how the healthcare sector used our systems. All a bit daunting and scary which made me want to turn and run back to the comfort of the NHS.

Whilst working as a Clinical Specialist for IMS Maxims (digital health manufacturer) I trained as a Clinical Safety Officer (CSO) which opened the door to a wealth of information and opportunity. This helped me become a more confident well organised person being able to take control of my own direction.

By using the skills I have gained during my nursing career I was able to influence change and had the opportunity to attend events and conferences that focused my ability to learn from and teach others.

I had responsibility for delivering all end user training for clients as well as Clinical Risk Management throughout the organisation. This experience has been priceless in developing, advising on and implementing Clinical Risk Management activities and training within the digital health sector.

Now as an independent CSO working with healthcare organisations and Digital Health manufacturers supporting their regulatory compliance pathways I can use the experience gained during my digital health journey to influence change and transformation.

My journey has taken a new turn becoming a Fellow of the Faculty of Clinical Informatics which has allowed me to also represent the Clinical Safety Special Interest Group. This has given me the opportunity to utilise my skills and expertise to provide support and guidance at a national level.

Being a CSO is not something you can do alone and requires support and guidance from the larger team whether this is a specialist group or an individual. If the expectation is for you to take the entire Clinical Risk Management burden on your shoulders, then you need to speak up. We have always worked better as a collective in everything we do and that is no different as a CSO.

Safety in numbers!!

My time as a CSO has shown me the values of working as a team in an environment where ideas are taken on board, everybody has a voice and if you want to get something done then you have the support to do so. Having the confidence to speak up and be heard is priceless and has paved the way for me over the years.

If there is any advice that I would share from my experience and deciding to become a CSO it would be:

  1. It may seem like a big step crossing that void but there is so much opportunity and experience that you will gain by doing so and there is more support than you can imagine
  2. Being a CSO gives you an opportunity to influence change from within as key stakeholders are your audience when carrying out your Clinical Risk Management activities
  3. Always remember that there is a patient at the end of everything we do which makes our role that much more important and helps me keep focused on the tasks ahead
  4. Make use of the resources available to you as you cannot do this job alone, it is a team effort which will reap rewards with robust Clinical Risk Management processes in place
  5. Top Management buy in cannot be underestimated it can make or break the success of implementing a successful Clinical Risk Management framework.

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