Ruth Chambers OBE
Retired GP, Technology Enabled Care Lead for Staffordshire Sustainability and Transformation Partnership
My background has been varied - a general medical practitioner, academic, writer, project manager, innovator, parent, and I have tried to use this to help other people progress in their careers.
Stoke Your Success has been written to highlight tha many achievers of Stoke-on-Trent, who have made a difference despite having often difficult beginnings. Ruth hoped to inspire young people, especially, to realise that success is achieved through hard work, and not necessarily from having an easy start in life, nor by being born in a particular place.
Our recent publications in journals have centred on raising awareness of how technology can improve patient care. In particular, we have shown how essential it is to give clinicians the tools and confidence to use technology, and the authority to lead innovative methods of care delivery. Here are a few of our articles:
I've always been committed to making change happen, particularly in trying to reduce health inequality. I have previously worked to reduce teenage pregnancy, supported refugee doctors to become fully-fledged UK doctors, tried to raise quality in general practices, and my current work has been centred around getting people to look after themselves better. Part of that is to use technology to help. So, rather than simply 'self care', I feel that the way forward is for 'shared care' to empower people, by understanding their medical conditions, and following clinicians' advice, supported by text messages, apps, management plans, video consultations, and social media.
One of the main problems with this has been the lack of confidence of clinicians about using technology in this way. There was a lack of trust in the technology, and also in patients' ability to select reliable information from internet sources.
So there needed to be training of clinicians, and this began with doctors and nurses - the nurses had a pivotal role in the interface between medical teams and patients - and then later on with a wider group of professionals, such as social workers, mental health workers, as well as allied health professionals.
Then, the patients, be they elderly, socially disadvantaged, with physical or mental health problems, refugees, or excluded by being in special needs education, all needed some help with unfamiliar technology. Some were able to adapt with help from a specialised community-focused IT organisation, but there were many who found the sight of a keyboard was enough to deter them, and I had the idea of using Amazon Echo Shows, which required only a voice to control them.
Often, throughout my working life, people have asked my advice about their own career. Usually, they have not thought through where they want to be, nor how to get there. Some plan is needed.
Here are some ideas which may help to develop a way forward:
There are different ways of bringing about change. Sometimes it is in influential committees, but it can also be through providing education to a wide range of people, which is much more possible using current technology.