Bettina Fitt is secondary care director of strategy and commercial director at EMIS Health, a leading UK provider of clinical IT systems used across healthcare economies, from GP practices to hospitals, pharmacies and community services. She previously worked for leading healthcare organisations including GE Healthcare, Medtronic and De Puy. Bettina began her career as a nurse and midwife, before moving across to a corporate healthcare career.
“…Technology is the language of the future of healthcare. There is no place for gender stereotypes in healthcare engineering and software development. The future is gender neutral…”
A vocation first and a career second
When I started nursing, it was very much a vocation first and a career second. I guess the vocation is what has kept me in healthcare. Good healthcare matters to all of us and it is a fascinating area to build a career in whilst still having a very clear sense of purpose. I have had the opportunity to work at incredible companies who make everything from remarkable implantable therapeutic devices to complex imaging equipment that delivers faster, better, safer healthcare.
My current role allows me to continue harnessing the power of IT, interoperability and data crunching to help drive up standards of clinical care. I keep on thinking how lucky I am that I have built a career that is so diverse and always interesting.
No two days are the same. In a typical week, I get together with my teams and meet with existing customers to discuss their current plans or future vision. I also meet with potential partners who have products that may complement our technology. I work with colleagues from other areas of the business to look at how we “join up” our healthcare solutions where it makes sense to do so.
Data driven innovation leading to improvements in patient care
Digitised health records are one of the most significant drivers in improving patient safety and quality of care. Data enables innovations such as decision support tools to be built into systems. Predictive analytics has the power to predict the recurrence or exacerbation of a chronic long term condition early enough to take action and avoid a hospital admissions.
Since April this year, all patients have had the ability to access the medical record held at their GP surgery. They are able to give permission for this data to be securely shared with other healthcare staff in different locations, for example, hospital. Previously, hospitals would rely on the patient or family member to give them medical history.
Having worked in hospitals, I well remember families bringing in carrier bags full of medication, sometimes not sure which was the patient’s current medication. Making the whole care record accessible whenever and wherever it is needed will make care and decision-making much more precise.
New opportunities for all, regardless of gender
I don’t believe that there are any specific challenges for women working in healthcare and tech compared with other sectors. Many employers offer flexible working and this applies equally to men. We are seeing more women in what were once considered male roles, such as engineering and software development. It’s probably a case of younger women realising the many options that are available to them.
Technology is the language of the future of healthcare. There is no place for gender stereotypes in healthcare engineering and software development. The future is gender neutral.
Interestingly, in my own team, I have former male nurses who now head up product teams and the CEO was briefly a male nurse 40 years ago. It is not so much a gender discussion, but more about realising the opportunities that exist for everyone beyond nursing.
There is huge benefit to healthcare organisations in having strong clinical engagement and advocates within the organisation, and EMIS Health has always led the way in this. It was founded by two GPs who got together and decided to design their own electronic health record system, because there was nothing suitable on the market. There are clinicians at a senior level in the company, thirty years later.
Diversity should be a focus for all organisations. It is well known that teams with women in senior roles drive better performance and that the returns to shareholders are higher. We have a number of women in senior leadership roles across many areas, including finance, HR, development, commercial and customer support.
Planning for success
I have had some great advice over the years but the best was to have a plan that was not limited to my current experience. It did not make a lot of sense at the time, but as I moved continents, from nursing to a commercial organisation, I began to realise that I could achieve far more than I had dreamed possible at the start of my nursing career. It was then that I started to plan it and work out what I needed to do to achieve my goals.
Joined up healthcare
We are working in exciting times. Across the business, we are demonstrating how we can join up areas of healthcare at a time when the NHS is facing huge challenges to become more efficient with fewer resources.
We already have some great examples of innovative work across health economies, which are helping clinicians to work more safely and efficiently. I believe we will go from strength to strength in this area. The company is uniquely placed to do this, producing the best-of-breed software in different sectors to integrate care across the health service.
I am looking forward to continuing working with our teams and our customers across the UK to build solutions that truly make a difference to how care is delivered. It really is a privilege to work with the talented and purpose-driven employees that we have.