Speaking the same language

by Dr Arrash Yassaee

10 April 2019


Bridging our gap in the spirit of multi-disciplinary working.

When I was in medical school, I was told that I would be learning the same amount of new words that I would if I were to learn a new language fluently. Four years on from graduating, I am now a junior doctor in my first year of speciality training in paediatrics at Barts Health NHS Trust. I often find I’m speaking in a different language to my non-clinical colleagues, and them to me. 

My training as a junior doctor as well as a recent secondment as part of the National Medical Director's Clinical Fellow programme, has made me passionate about bridging the gap between operations, policy and the front line. One of the most important things I’ve learnt in my time in the health service is the need for effective communication when striving to achieve results. This is the reason I decided to continue my professional development by studying HFMA’s advanced diploma and higher diploma. I have been able to balance the courses with my full-time clinical role with the support and guidance of my educational supervisor.

There's often a sense of helplessness felt by junior doctors and other clinicians when it comes to understanding why processes are the way they are and why you’re hitting a wall when trying to instigate change. HFMA’s qualification in healthcare business and finance have cemented my understanding of why the NHS is structured and financed in the way it is. I’ve gained a wealth of knowledge into areas I had little before and can now say I understand topics such as capital spending, healthcare economics and accountancy. I am in a far greater position to talk to managers about implementing improvement on the front line, whilst understanding and sharing the same language and terminology as them.

Whether by driving forward quality improvement projects or shaping everyday decisions, being able to have these conversations makes my clinical role easier. For example, where previously I would struggle to make a case for purchasing specific clinical equipment, since my studies with HFMA, I can speak to finance colleagues about value-based healthcare and improved efficiency, drawing on my expertise as a clinician. It’s important that when you have an idea with clinical merit you speak to finance and operations to try and find out what the barriers are to making it happen and how we can collaborate more in order to improve patient care.

It’s not just on the frontline where my HFMA qualification has proven invaluable. In more strategic roles, the HFMA modules have helped me intuitively understand what is feasible, and given me the ability to  better predict and articulate unforeseen consequences. Since starting the course, I have used PLICS to estimate future healthcare costs, utilised value-based healthcare when discussing workforce policies, and employed knowledge of NHS structure, governance and regulation to shape patient pathways.

As a result of the diploma courses, I am now able to have discussions with colleagues in finance, policy and strategy and better understand how decisions affect the delivery of patient care on the frontline. Combining my newly gained finance knowledge with my clinical experience has improved my ability to facilitate high quality patient-centred care. It’s also taught me that there needs to be good communication between clinical and non-clinical staff if we want to achieve results and make change happen. We need to start trying to understand each other’s language to move towards a patient-centred care approach. It’s important to remember that we all want the same thing, sometimes we’re just saying it differently.

Find out more about HFMA's qualifications in healthcare business and finance here.

Twitter: @ArrashYassaee