"I approach most things in life with a sense of caution, I think that is one of my pharmacist traits"

“It was a complete accident! I worked as a pharmacist, and I wanted to use all the knowledge I had gained over these years, so I put my CV on a job website to see what came up, and the rest is history,” Christine Wadsworth describes her transition from pharmacy to healthcare IT.

Christine is a clinical lead in our UK team, making sure our medication management solution functions smoothly for all our existing and new customers, helping with implementation processes, and providing and verifying clinical use cases. She worked as a pharmacist in a hospital, primary care, and community pharmacy for several years, and her experience is invaluable when implementing an ePMA system. “I use all my expertise gained and enjoy the challenge of visiting customers, demonstrating the system, and describing the benefits to users and patients,” she says. Christine is also a great colleague, an excellent listener, a passionate baker and an amateur singer. And she describes Better as her family. Read the interview and get to know Christine.

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As the clinical lead at Better, could you describe a typical day in your role and your key responsibilities?

My work centres around the Better products, Better Meds, Better Allergies, and Better Portal, and supporting our team who design and develop them, and our UK customers who use them. On a typical day, I might be joining calls to assess new and proposed functionality in these products for safety, providing and verifying clinical use cases for the designers and developers, and helping our implementing and live customers with clinical queries related to the use of these products. I support some of the implementing projects and join the regular project calls or visit sites to offer help and guidance and run the clinical safety workshops. I work closely with our knowledge transfer team, and we create videos, release notes, and update the user manual.

You started your career as a pharmacist and transitioning from a clinical to a more specialised role in healthcare IT can be a significant change. What inspired you to make this transition, and what motivated you to specialise in ePMA systems?

It was a complete accident! I worked as a pharmacist in a hospital, primary care, and community pharmacy and spent many years in each. I wanted to use all the knowledge I had gained over these years, but I wasn’t sure where or who would need or want it. I put my CV on a job website to see what came up, and the rest is history! I was lucky enough to become employed as a product specialist in a developing electronic prescribing and medication administration (ePMA) system. I used all my expertise gained and enjoyed the challenge of visiting customers, demonstrating the system, and describing the benefits to users and patients. It was quite scary to leave clinical work, but I am still a registered pharmacist and am married to a community pharmacist who keeps me well informed.

What advice would you give to a young professional looking to start a career journey in healthcare innovation and technology implementation?

I would say that we need you! It is still a specialised career, and we need to grow the expertise. For clinicians, don’t be afraid to venture out of your clinical role, it is safe to do so! You won’t leave clinical work behind completely if you don’t want to and will use your clinical knowledge.

Electronic prescribing has become increasingly important in modern healthcare systems. Why do you think ePMA matters, and how is it changing the way medications are prescribed and administered?

Paper prescribing charts were so error prone. They were always getting lost or covered in lactulose or body fluids. They were often illegible and very difficult to audit. They had to be rewritten at least every 14 days. There were no allergy checks, drug interactions, or duplication checks. ePMA has reduced or eliminated many of these risks due to its availability, continuity, and legibility. It will also allow prescribing data from secondary care to be shared with primary and community care. The hope is that ePMA is encouraging prescribers to follow guidance and prescribe using pre-configured pathways for certain conditions so there is more chance of getting the treatment right for the patient more quickly and safely. Nurses, as the biggest group of ePMA users, have had to get used to a huge change in the way they document administrations, but they have really risen to the challenge.

How is electronic prescribing evolving within the NHS? With your vast experience working both in the clinical sector and on the provider side, can you tell us what improvements have been made in recent years, whether there was resistance to change, and how the NHS is evolving in this direction?

I have seen ePMA systems evolve a lot since their early implementation. With Better Meds, we can import medication data from GP systems and use it to populate the drug history, which was impossible a few years ago. I used an ePMA system as a pharmacist on the wards around 20 years ago and it was very difficult to use and manage. There is always resistance to change! The staff in the NHS are so stretched that often they do not want an existing system to change and make their working life worse. This is why we have an implementation process which involves representatives from each role group and encourages clinical engagement at each stage, so we can understand their work processes and how the ePMA system will replace some processes and embed them into their working day. I think it is widely recognised in the NHS that ePMA systems offer benefits, and the more reference sites we have, the easier it is to explain this to those who are resistant to change.

What benefits does electronic prescribing and medication administration bring to patients, clinical staff, and pharmacists? How does it improve efficiency and patient safety within healthcare organisations?

The benefits of ePMA for clinicians are well documented. ePMA offers decision support, is well audited, saves time rewriting charts, is legible, integrates with laboratory results and other systems, and offers closed-loop prescribing, supply, and administration. Patients may not be aware of how it is helping them; they might just see their clinician sitting behind a laptop tapping away. However, many patients are very wise about their treatment and challenge clinicians if they are asked to answer the same question each time they are seen. I hope that both patients and carers will see benefits when their current prescribing information is in hand for any clinician who needs to treat them.

Reflecting on your career journey, what key lessons have you learned along the way? What core values or beliefs guide your approach to your professional and personal life, and how do you integrate these values into your work?

I have learned so much, and I am still learning. When I qualified, we had very basic electronic systems and no emails. We had to communicate using the phone, and it was sometimes very frustrating. I learned never to assume anything at all. I have learned how to talk to patients, clinicians, and colleagues and, most importantly, how to listen. I have learned to be calm and work things through. I approach most things in life with a sense of caution, I like to gather all the facts before I do anything, and I don’t throw myself in at the deep end. I think that is one of my pharmacist traits.

You also mentioned your passion for baking cakes; what is your most iconic cake recipe? What else do you like to do in your free time, and how do you unwind?

Baking is another area where I am still learning. I occasionally have disasters, but I make a tasty Victoria sponge with homemade jam and a great four-layer carrot cake. Outside of work, I like to do anything creative and away from a computer, such as making bread, gardening, and sewing. I have singing lessons, but just for fun, I promise I will never sing in public! I have recently done night school courses in floristry which I would love to continue.

What does Better mean to you?

Better is like my family. I don’t see Better as an employer with me as an employee. We grow together as a unit. We have the same values.

Better_People-2000x3000-Better-Christine Wadsworth

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