Insight meets Tracey Cottam, Royal Devon & Exeter NHS Foundation Trust

As part of the executive team for the Royal Devon & Exeter NHS Foundation Trust (RD&E), Tracey Cottam is director of transformation & stakeholder engagement, overseeing a wide portfolio including large scale transformation, quality improvement, central programme management and continuous improvement, internal and external stakeholder communication and engagement, inclusion and charitable fund raising.

Since June 2018, in partnership with the medical director, Tracey is also the joint senior responsible officer for the MY CARE Programme – a clinically led transformation programme enabled by the introduction of new digital technology.  The programme will go live in June 2020 and will establish a new way of delivering care to the public and patients improving the quality of their experience.

Tracey has a background in senior leadership roles across different sectors including automotive, retail, logistics, consultancy and healthcare.


Q:  How will MY CARE change the care sector?

MY CARE will improve experience for patients, carers and staff by joining up care and connecting people in a way we cannot today.  Healthcare is a complex business, meeting the needs of patients and carers requires healthcare professionals, and I include our dedicated administrative colleagues in that group, to co-ordinate a wide range of activities; from diagnostics to treatment, the provision of medication to ongoing care. 

MY CARE will give everyone involved in patient care at the Trust and beyond, an improved and joined up service enabled by  a single electronic patient record on which to record information and more importantly make clinical decisions to improve health outcomes. 

I want to stress though that technology on its own won’t make all of this happen.  As part of MY CARE we are working with hundreds of colleagues, patients, carers to redesign the way we deliver healthcare,all of which will be enabled by better ways of working which capitalise on the ability to better share information.  This people-led, technology-enabled clinical change to services delivered in hospitals and at home, offers the blueprint for 21st Century healthcare.

Q:  How do you use science and tech to benefit people’s lives? 

Healthcare is all about people – those receiving care and those delivering it.  Behind healthcare is science and technology.  The RD&E already has a global reputation for innovation and involving people in this work.  Hip replacement surgery was changed globally thanks to the work of clinicians from the RD&E.  We were one of the first Trusts in the country to introduce robotic prostate surgery which significantly improves outcomes and speeds up the recovery of patients.

MY CARE will bring together scientific health and transformation expertise together with world-leading technology to benefit patients, carers and our staff.  For example, within our electronic patient record system there is a feature called My Chart. My Chart is an app or online portal for patients which will give people greater control over their healthcare and enable the remote monitoring of some conditions.  Remote monitoring will mean we will be able to assess people in their own homes and make arrangements to see them when the need arises, not as a matter of routine. This is really significant.  Very often we see patients just to “check”, and this is inconvenient for our patients and takes clinical time away from treating those most in need. 

Q:  What do you want to achieve in your role in the next 12 months?

Well my main priority over the next 12 months will be MY CARE.  This is the single biggest clinical transformation programme ever undertaken in Devon, and the first of its type to be implemented across both acute and community settings in the UK, so both exciting and challenging in equal measures. 

At the heart of the programme are people, those that need care and services from us (our public, patients and carers) and those that are entrusted to deliver care and services (our staff).  Our focus over the next c.12 months will be to engage people in delivering this transformational change – we will listen to their views and ideas, connect different groups of people to take a joined up view of what changes make sense, and encourage everyone to innovate and be ambitious so that we get the best outcomes for people.

Q:  What does your average day look like? 

My day usually starts between 7.30 and 8.00 AM and usually ends between 6.00 and 7.00 PM.  Most days, there will be a number of meetings to attend and conversations with people.  From a MY CARE perspective, the pace of activity is fast with several phases of the programme to be implemented within set time periods between now and June 2020. 

As part of a great programme team I can be working on a range of topics including clinical pathway improvement,  communication and engagement, staff training, configuration of the new IT system or helping the RD&E organisation to deliver this change.  Ultimately I, along with Adrian Harris (the Trust’s executive medical director), am accountable for the successful delivery of the MY CARE Programme, so my primary focus is to enable this to be done.

Q:  What do you wish other people knew about your work?

One of the most inspiring parts of my role is working as part of the MY CARE Programme Team.  It took nearly 6 years of hard work to secure national approval and funding for the Programme, and now it’s a real privilege to be delivering what’s been described as “For the RD&E it’s the biggest change we’ve seen since 1948 when the NHS began.” (Adrian Harris, RD&E executive medical director).

I would like everyone to know how committed the MY CARE team of nearly 650 people are to a shared purpose of improving the experience of people (our public, patients, carers and staff).  The outcomes and results of MY CARE will benefit everyone, supporting individuals to live healthier lives.

MY CARE Programme

MY CARE is a clinically led transformation programme enabled by a comprehensive electronic patient record.  At its heart, are people – those that need care and services from us (our public, patients and carers) and those that are entrusted to deliver care and services (our staff).  Through the programme we will engage people in the co-design of a new model of delivering care and services together with making information more accessible, both at home and any care delivery setting.

There will be a range of positive outcomes for people – those we are here to serve (public and patients) and our staff together with numerous quality, safety, capacity releasing and financial benefits.

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