• Bio: With over 12 years’ experience working in healthcare in both the UK and Canada, Kate is now a Senior Consultant at GE Healthcare Finnamore. She discusses her current role and takes a look back at how she got there.

Kate Lawrence

My strong interest in public healthcare service delivery was sparked by an inspiring lecture about effective hospital management during my undergraduate degree in Canada, and the level of problem solving and leadership skills required to provide high quality patient care in a complex environment. I now have over 12 years of experience working in healthcare in both the UK and in Canada, including nine years working with the NHS as a management consultant on a range of acute provider and commissioning projects.

Qualifications and Training

My undergraduate degree was in Health Information Science from the University of Victoria in Canada. This degree focused on developing a rounded understanding of healthcare policy and management, IM&T, and business and communications. Graduates go on to pursue a range of professional roles based on information management and systems thinking in healthcare. The programme also offers four terms of ‘Coop’ work experience with employers based across Canada, which leads to a high graduate employment rate. This Coop work term experience was highly valuable for building experience and meeting potential employers.

I pursued the field of Health Information Science (HIS) because it appealed to my multi-disciplinary nature and generalist skill set, and appeared to offer a wide range of interesting (and unpredictable) career opportunities, including for travel. HIS is very important to the future of healthcare globally, as technology is creating opportunities to dramatically improve care and the coordination of health service delivery.

After three years spent working in a teaching hospital in Toronto after graduation, I joined a Canadian management consultancy that was opening an office in the UK – in 2006 I was transferred to London. My roles since joining management consultancy have evolved from a focus on health informatics to a broader range of health strategy and process improvement projects.

In 2008, interested in the similarities and differences between the Canadian and UK health systems, I undertook a master’s degree in International Health Policy at the London School of Economics (LSE). This degree covered a further range of skills and knowledge, including:

  • Health system financing
  • Health economics (including how to design and undertake cost-effectiveness analyses)
  • Social care policy.

It also introduced me to other students from all over the world, which brought a further international perspective to our studies.

Current role at GE Healthcare Finnamore

My current role is as a Senior Consultant at GE Healthcare Finnamore (GEHCF). The role is extremely varied. For example, activities in the past month have included:

  • Holding stakeholder interviews to understand one English region’s vision for a clinical research informatics platform to draw on both genomic data and Electronic Patient Record data to support ground-breaking medical discoveries and precision medicine.
  • Attending a meeting of the GEHCF Clinical Panel, a panel of nationally recognised clinician experts discussing future issues in the NHS.
  • Interviewing aspiring candidates at a GEHCF recruitment assessment day.
  • Undertaking professional development on how to ’think on your feet’.
  • Facilitating a day-long workshop of internal analytics experts.
  • Participating in a client pitch to support an NHS organisation strengthen its financial recovery plan.
  • Training new starters on how to use our GEHCF knowledge management systems.

Most of my work is client-based, and I can be working on several assignments at the same time. I’ve also undertaken a number of longterm placements within single organisations, which have provided me with in-depth experience. These placements have included:

  • Operations manager within an A&E department.
  • Programme manager with the former NHS Institute for Innovation and Improvement, supporting implementation of ambulatory emergency care pathways in the UK.
  • Strategic and business planning role within a Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG), supporting the commissioning cycle over a one-year period.
  • Seven Day Services lead for a collaboration of CCGs, working across multiple CCGs and acute Trusts to establish a regional programme for seven day services implementation across urgent and emergency care, in line with national clinical standards.

Why I enjoy working at GE Healthcare Finnamore

There are several key things I enjoy about my job at GEHCF:

  • Variety: the constant variety in the projects I work on has exposed me to so many facets of the English healthcare system over the past nine years.
  • Healthcare field: I enjoy the focus on healthcare at GEHCF, as this is an area in which I have a strong professional interest.
  • People: I really enjoy working with people, and particularly with staff and clinicians in the NHS, who are so passionate about providing good quality health care services.
  • Challenge: being a good management consultant requires a wide range and balance of skills: from the numerical and analytical through to visual design and presentation, and from being very organised and efficient in how one operates, to also being able to see ‘the big picture’ and inspire others. Management consultancy remains a constant professional challenge, and the opportunity for learning and development can be highly rewarding.

My advice for people trying to get into the industry would be to reflect on what strengths you bring to this type of work, and to seek out a consultancy with a culture and client base that is a good ‘fit’ for you and your skills. An educational background in a relevant field is an asset, as is experience of working in healthcare. It is important to be flexible, well-presented, and hard-working – a genuine interest in the field of healthcare and desire to make a difference are also valued qualities.

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