So tell me a little bit about you like your background where you grew up and what you’re up to now.
So I grew up in the suburbs of Melbourne. I was fortunate to go to an alternative school and that set me up to be interested in both health, science and arts equally.
I originally studied then in Melbourne as a medical photographer so I was interested in physiology, biology as well as creative arts and photography and in my first part of my career, I worked as a photographer’s assistant and finally landed a job as a medical photographer. I was also the chief, the only medical photographer in the Northern Territory right, in the Northern Territory Government which was great.
I spent 17 years in Darwin, really enjoyed my job but found that it did become a bit repetitive and I had a yearning to learn more and have a depth of knowledge around health and wellbeing and possibly technology. So I used it as an opportunity in my job in Royal Darwin Hospital to do an honours year.
I had been a medical photographer but I’d witnessed a lot of doctors and nurses and other clinicians taking photos of patients on iPhones and I could see that this wasn’t compatible with our records management schedule and best practice around patient information.
So I did research looking at some of the practices that were not only occurring in my research site but also occuring across Australia and possibly across the world because technology was moving on and regulation legislation was slow to catch up.
So that was really successful. I got good publications in international media from that which set me up to do a PhD. I got a scholarship to do it. That took me down to Brisbane which was great. Probably best move I made in my life to that point but Brisbane had an opportunity in terms it had dynamic you know proactive communities in innovation, in local government and community action.
I was interested politically as well and engaged politically, and I was doing a PhD in a business school around health that I was really passionate about, all centred around customers and making customer experience better. So I went from very small well to a very big world with lots of dynamic moving parts and lots of communities to interact with. And my experience at QUT was pretty amazing. So it was I think as the first time in my life I ever felt like a bit of a VIP doing a PhD.
It was the first time I actually felt like people were looking out for my career and creating opportunities and opening doors for me. After three and a half years I finished my PhD which was great. I looked at patient generated health data, so giving the consumer a greater voice in our healthcare services through their own data. And now and through that process you have to look at technology and so technology and technology innovation became an integral part of the research that I’d done. And then after finishing the PhD and working in different areas of Queensland Health and not really finding anything permanent,I landed a job in EHealth Queensland which is a combination of all the things that I’ve been doing, which is really exciting.
So what kind of things do you do at EHealth?
I’m the client engagement manager for the digital innovation team. We have two engagement people and two project managers and our team develops proof of concept IT products that haven’t been seen before either in Australia or globally.
We do this by crowdsourcing ideas from our clinicians, so people at the coalface that have an actual problem that can be solved by digital technology. We then nurture that problem or opportunity and create what we think is a project around that. We co-create it with the problem owner or the opportunity owner. And after a fairly lengthy process of creating the idea, getting crowd support for the idea, validating the idea to see whether it fits within our funding block, then we we send it to our steering committee who will then potentially fund the development of the project. So we have to do 10 of those, ten proof of concepts in a three year strategy, give or take, and two pilot trials and so really what we’re about is bringing new technology into the environment of Queensland Health through EHealth Queensland and creating a culture where people can try things and even if they fail that’s okay because there’s still some learnings.
So what’s important to you and your life?
So, at the moment I’m really trying to translate stuff that I’ve learned in my PhD into a workplace situation. So making that, bringing the value of what I’ve learned into a government environment. I do find challenges with that because of the way different teams are made up and also that I have quite a specialist expertise that not everybody understands so a lot of my job is trying to explain and a lot of what I know and what I can share and why I think things should go a certain way.
But then our team is very agile and very dynamic and so we pick things up quickly and we drop things when they don’t work. So there’s an opportunity for renewal a lot. So I’m very passionate about solving the problems in health that we have through digital technology and the more time I spend in the innovation and entrepreneurship space the more passionate I am about business and business opportunity. I have a really wide network of people that I know and so being able to see opportunity. Seeing how people align to create the opportunity, helping shape funding applications and funding opportunities and then having the conversation at the right level you know maybe that requires legislation change as well. So then even having the political discussions to make things happen is really good.
So are there any specific events or people that have shaped what matters to you?
Across my lifetime? So I’ve always looked to like the quiet, the leaders in health care. I either aspire to be or respect as well as in the innovation and entrepreneurship space.
So people who have, I like people who have the capacity for a long term strategy and that can obviously make stuff happen. So, I guess in my current roles there’s like two women that I look up to. One of them is Monica Trujillo who is, she developed the St. Stephen’s digital hospital. it’s the first digital hospital in Australia.
She’s a doctor, a medical doctor, and she has certification around health informatics as well and obviously the Chief Entrepreneur Leanne Kemp who is running a company valued in 80 million dollars after three years. But also she’s able to really give to the entire ecosystem of Queensland Health and and boost everybody up in the way that she does that. So those two women are definitely my heroes. My Sheroes.
So has anyone ever asked you this question before: What’s important to you in your life?
I think I ask myself all the time. I think it’s a constant refining of the things that are important but I do find it hard to actually pinpoint one thing because it’s more about the feeling and the results than necessarily the actual thing.
So no one else has ever asked you but it’s something you’ve asked yourself?
That’s something I ask myself all the time. Yeah. Yeah. And I think like obviously sustainability and living a sustainable life is something that you know we are being asked to think about because of impending climate change and you know sustainability. We know that living the way we do is fairly unsustainable. Like even trying to find ways that I can refine my life to be more sustainable is really important yeah. So I think that, and underlying that is trying to be a good and positive person in my ecosystems, whichever that they are.
So who in your life do you think would benefit from being asked this question?
So I think, for me personally, it’s like the closer you are to somebody the more you would want to ask them that because I think it’s really important for the people close to you that you do ask that question, to improve the relationship you have with them. Part of it is understanding what everyone else’s journey is and how you can contribute to that or being aware of it so that you can support them in that way as well.