Karen Jones knew from the beginning of her adulthood that she was destined to be in Sales. Long and close contact with healthcare as well as her experience as an inpatient instilled the utmost respect and empathy for healthcare professionals. A forward-thinking mind propelled her to identify the future of healthcare: digital health. All these ingredients make a simply perfect fit for Visiba's Sales team in the UK. Karen tells us all about it.
Tell us a bit about your background.
After finishing in Education, it wasn't 100% clear to me what career path I wanted to take. I knew that I loved people and found learning about them and building relationships was one of my key strengths. My first sales-based role was challenging, I worked hard, learnt so much, performed very well, and even won a national contract for them. I loved the challenge, relationship building, and the whole process involved from initial contact to continued customer support and engagement. I continued to gain lots of experience in a varied range of companies and products.
I then wanted to move into a more professional sales environment and build a career. I completed my degree whilst working and became a Financial Advisor/Planner, which gave me an insight into a more professional solution-based sell.
Fast forward a few years, and I was headhunted by a private medical company to work as a patient advisor, I adored working with Patients, Surgeons, Nurses and all the other HCPs and had the utmost respect for their worth ethic and tenacity. I was promoted to Clinic/Hospital Manager and learnt a lot about business and strategies in healthcare, I became very patient-focused and wanted to be able to support HCP’s while being able to deliver patient-centric care. I have now worked with Device/Digital healthcare solutions for nearly 10 years. It has been an absolute honour and a privilege to spend time with and experience working within our NHS Theatre, Ward and Clinic teams. Healthcare was definitely where I was supposed to be.
What made you turn to digital health?
I think it's the way forward. Just over two years ago, I had sepsis and was an inpatient in an NHS hospital for 12 days, it was my first inpatient experience and opened my eyes to the pressures HCPs are under and how stretched they are! When patients are more worried about being cared for after surgery than the surgery itself, something needs to change. I cannot fault the care I received; the nursing staff were excellent but due to reduced staff during cutbacks etc patients were looking after each other sometimes as the nurses were so busy. Whilst in hospital, I began researching patient monitoring and how we could maybe relieve some pressures on the nursing staff, whilst still keeping patients safe and cared for. Digital transformation seemed the only option for moving forward.
I have worked with two companies over the pandemic, implementing various digital technologies and solutions to help relieve some of the pressures and enhance patient pathways and care, now and for the future.
And this is when Visiba came in the picture?
My interest in Visiba came from my need to see patients have easier access to the correct healthcare in a timely manner. I am aware that just getting through to a GP clinic to book an appointment can be difficult (98 calls until you get through then fully booked!) and so are multiple trips to the hospital that may not have been necessary. Having worked as a Clinic Manager and understanding booking systems, waiting lists, DNAs, overrun clinics, upset patients, difficulty in prioritising, and making sure people have access to the correct HCP, I was very interested to see how Visiba Care could help, now, during a pandemic and into the future, and I thought it was awesome!
During my interview process and onboarding, I was struck by the passion and enthusiasm everyone had for the company and our solution. Everyone spoke about the patient and how they, along with the customers, help us design the correct solution for all users! It is so apparent when you talk to anyone at Visiba that everything is patient-centric and I love that; I couldn't ask for anything more than that in a company.
You have 2 minutes with the Secretary of Health – What do you say?
I would say ‘spend time with your frontline HCPs in the NHS in all areas of the UK, ask them what will help them, what they need, what good healthcare means to them, involve them and make them feel listened to’. I would also ask him to think about things a little: ‘Don’t offer contracts to companies with no experience, take a little more time to understand what is available and what is suitable to cover more of the needs and fixes’. ‘Are you doing the right thing for the right reasons at the right time?’ ‘research patients, what do they need and want from the NHS what will make access to healthcare better for them?’.
Where do you see digital health having the biggest impact?
There is so much innovation in digital healthcare at the moment which is wonderful. For me, the biggest benefit is going to be in virtual clinics, digital pathways, and remote monitoring. Patients being monitored at home alongside virtual consultations is the way forward. Sitting in waiting rooms in A&E for follow up appointments should be a thing of the past. I think we definitely need to find better access for patients to MDT meetings and home care for patients especially with cancer or long-term illness. I have spoken with a Cancer centre who spent a little time with 2000 of their patients over a number of years, to learn about their healthcare during the most difficult months/years of their care, nearly all patients would have preferred at-home care and less unnecessary visits to the hospital for so many reasons.
I think digital healthcare enabling patients to be more involved in their care with easier digital access will hopefully help reduce the pressures on our wonderful healthcare, I am hopeful that I, along with Visiba can support these changes.
What is the best thing about working at Visiba?
The people - without a shadow of a doubt. Our values, ‘we care’, ‘we act’, ‘we grow’ are just perfect and it is very apparent that the whole team believe in this and that we are all very focused on bringing our customer and patient users on this wonderful journey with us.
Visiba is a very different type of company, everyone is involved and you don't always find that. I trust everybody and believe in everybody, what they are capable of and what we can do together. That's an awesome feeling and it breeds enthusiasm in all.
What will your main focus be for the next few months?
Spreading the word about Visiba Care, who we are and how we are as a company. I find myself talking a lot about the culture and the fact that we are all about the patients and the customer. Hopefully getting some hospitals to use the platform, contacting people for our upcoming breakfast meeting around transforming digital pathways and listening to people’s thoughts on that topic. I also want to learn a lot more about what is happening on the hospital floors, because a lot of published content on digital health is focused on the CIOs and CEOs – there is not a lot about what the doctors and nurses need in a virtual clinic platform and I want to make sure that we are in a position to help them.
Why is involving the clinicians on the first line important for digital transformation?
They need to be part of the design process because it needs to be user friendly for them and their patient cohort if they are going to use it successfully. We need to provide a lot of guidance utilising our 6 years of experience but listen to individual teams and their needs, making changes to the solution as it goes live and tweaks need to be made. Having a customisable solution that can be consistently updated or altered is essential as we implement around their different pathways and patients.
Who is Karen outside of work?
I've been a single mum for 15 years now so everything outside of work has really been about my daughter. When she was younger, alongside full-time education, she danced 4-6 days a week, so up until she passed her driving test last year, I have been a full-time dance mum and taxi driver! I love dance and all the big performances and opportunities she has had over the last 10 years, but it has taken up most of our free time. She is now studying BA (hons) Criminology at University but is continuing to dance professionally when she can. Personally, I love music especially 90’s R’n’B, walking and a good box set, I enjoy real-life crime.
Tell us something unusual about you!
I was a very good horse rider when I was younger. I overthink and analyse, my mind is constantly on the go! It is great in professional life, because I think outside the box and look at things from a different angle sometimes, but I do wish I could turn it off a little outside of work!