Getting the right people in the room

by Dr Arrash Yassaee

14 September 2021

This is my second HFMA blog and in preparation, I thought back to what has changed since that first piece. It feels much longer than two years ago, during which I finished my MBA in healthcare finance. In that time, I’ve had the opportunity to implement my learning in ways I wouldn’t have previously considered possible.

In my last blog, I spoke of the value of clinical and finance staff speaking the same language. Two years on, and the need for this is more important than ever. Covid-19 has forced staff from all disciplines to collaborate and deliver rapid change with both rigour and pragmatism. The HFMA has taught me how to seek out and facilitate some of those conversations and it was during the first wave I realized how valuable that was to supplement my clinical training.

These conversations were what opened up several subsequent leadership opportunities, locally and nationally. During the second wave, I chaired our service’s weekly risk meetings. These were a valuable opportunity to draw on a large breadth of the content in the qualifications, but they were also an experience which shaped my studies, with risk becoming the topic of my MBA research project. Since then I’ve also returned to national roles, where the added benefits of the HFMA qualifications to my skillset have been most stark.

Specifically, the studies have given me greater clarity of thought on change management, especially what we can learn from other industries. The MBA has also given me the skills to really scrutinise my own practice and enabled me to look at problems more objectively and dispassionately. Much of the local decision making in the NHS relies heavily on anecdotal and personal experience and one powerful benefit about learning from other industries is it can provide a wider pool of evidence and knowledge to draw from.

Increasingly, I am conscious that this is very different to what we’re taught throughout our clinical training. It’s rare to receive any formal QI, leadership or finance training and you’re certainly not taught the underpinning theory and limitations of any given approach, but why not? I am a firm believer that if we are going to be leading clinical services, we need to understand the system as a whole, why our strategies might fail and how other systems and industries have tried to tackle similar challenges. 

My time spent studying with the HFMA was never going to make me an expert compared to financial or accounting professionals, but the MBA has helped me appreciate their expertise, and understand how we can work synergistically. Now, more than ever, it’s vital that we get the right people in the room and have a conversation where all parties are aligned and contribute to a collaborative thought process. 

Looking ahead, I think there is much reason for optimism. The past 18 months have shown us that the system is capable of rapid change and collaboration and has also revealed the appetite amongst clinicians to collaborate and engage with finance colleagues. I think there’s a huge opportunity for us to harness this appetite and work more collaboratively on a permanent basis.

Our responsibilities as clinicians are to ensure we are having the right conversations with the right people and I do feel we need to look at how we embed that knowledge and skillset in clinicians’ professional development. For me, studying for the advanced diploma and MBA has been a big part of understanding the wider system beyond my clinical role. I’m never going to be the finance expert, but the format of the study, the wide scope of learning, the independent research, and the nuanced group discussions have helped me understand the landscape that we as clinicians operate in and has given me a much more holistic perspective on tackling the challenges we face every day. I can’t recommend the qualifications enough, and I’m grateful to have had the chance to study alongside other like-minded individuals. It’s opened so many doors and thoroughly enhanced my understanding of healthcare.

The next intake or the HFMA qualifications in healthcare business and finance starts in January 2022. Click here for more information and for details on how to apply.

Click here for more information on the MBA in healthcare finance programme.

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