Q&A with Samanthi Gibbens, Whittington Health NHS Trust
Q: HOW DID YOU HEAR ABOUT RWHEALTH?
RwHealth has been supporting on all of our dashboards at Whittington for a while now, predating my time here.
Q: HOW LONG HAVE YOU BEEN USING THE FINANCIAL LEDGER DASHBOARD?
I’ve been here at Whittington for three years, but as I understood it was in place two to three years before that as well. Over those five-plus years we probably haven’t made the most of the yearly opportunity to improve it, hence the recent big overhaul.
Q: WHY WAS THE SOLUTION PROCURED?
We wanted information that’s visually much easier to digest for non-finance people. For example, the budget holder’s primary role is delivering healthcare, but they obviously need the tools to manage their budgets too.
As well as that visual side, having access to – and being able to easily analyse – trends and run rates.
Q: WHAT WILL THE SOLUTION ENABLE YOU TO DO?
It will take away some of the Excel-based analysis that we previously ran and presented to managers on an individual basis or shared via email. Instead, we’ll have a more standardised approach which means all of the different services, different heads of finance, and different teams are presenting information in a similar way.
Sometimes, at the board level, high-level summaries would appear and managers might not understand what that includes or where that information has come from. Now we’ve got the ability to drill down into different types of information, with everyone from directors to junior nurses seeing this information in the same way.
Q: WHAT HAVE BEEN THE KEY IMPROVEMENTS TO THE FINANCIAL LEDGER DASHBOARD?
The way that you can filter information is much more visual and it’s easier to edit choices. There are now more things staff can look at and features to explore that data in greater depth. The interface has improved too and is now more user friendly with more options to refine and manage searches.
Q: WHAT VALUE HAS IT BROUGHT TO THE TEAM?
For the real value of these changes, I think we need to wait and see; COVID has clearly meant that we’ve taken the focus off managing finances in the same way as we did pre-COVID. Right now, everything has to be focused on how we get patients back in the hospital and get all these backlogs cleared – it has very much been a case of ‘here’s money to spend, go out and recruit the staff we need’. An unusually high proportion of the team’s time is spent trying to get the operational side running, and that’s at the expense of the time they would spend going through a finance ledger.
Winter and all the COVID variants have meant spikes in staff sickness, so user access has actually deteriorated slightly. We need to do a bit more in the trust to get the features of it out there and increase that use rate – I know there’s a really short three-minute video being set up so that managers can see how easy it is to use.
Q: WHAT ARE THE EXPECTED OUTCOMES YOU’RE ANTICIPATING?
I expect fewer requests coming in finance asking us to share information from the ledger as staff now have easy access. Rather than finance doing a download from the ledger and sending them files it should be more self-management. That doesn’t mean queries won’t come in, but it does mean we will have more capacity for the more complex queries.
Some of the directors have found the run rate trends really useful because we didn’t really have that before and it was all manually produced PDF board packs.
If you were to ask me what else can happen in future, I think the key will be combining or connecting dashboards. For me, when I look at finance, I also want to see the activity or performance for that area to see the correlations there. That’s the bit that we’re still a few steps away from.
Q: WHAT TIME SAVINGS HAVE YOU REALISED?
I can see it reducing that duplication of effort that would happen within my team, so now they can focus their time on other more helpful process improvements and improvements in the way that we manage finances rather than just churning information in a more palatable way.
ABOUT WHITTINGTON HEALTH NHS TRUST:
Providing a large range of services from the hospital, Whittington Health aims to help local people live longer and healthier lives through safe, personal, coordinated care.
As an integrated care organisation, Whittington Health brings high-quality services closer to home and speeds up communication between community and hospital services, improving the patient experience. With over 4,400 staff, Whittington Health provides hospital and community care services to 500,000 people across north London.
The organisation also teaches undergraduate medical students (as part of UCL Medical School) and nurses and therapists throughout the year, alongside providing a range of educational packages for postgraduate doctors and other healthcare professionals.
Assistant Director Financial Management
Financial Ledger dashboard
Whittington Health NHS Trust
London, United Kingdom