General Management

A Day in the Life of a Business Manager

Posted by Fiona Woodhall, 19 Apr 2017

This month I thought I would do an account of one of my days this week. As you will have gathered, everyone’s experience on the graduate scheme is different, even between trainees in the same stream, so I thought I’d give you an insight into my role.

For some context, my first placement is as a Business Manager within the Oncology Service of an acute hospital trust. The area I manage is diagnostic in nature so we don’t have any patients on wards; instead we provide crucial diagnostics for trusts across the UK.

 

08:30 – I arrive at work after an hour’s drive from home. It’s Wednesday, so I check in with the Medical Secretaries first thing – I’ve changed how supplies are ordered in our stockroom and Wednesday is Reorder Day. I always check that all the Reorder Cards have been collected and the supplier details are right. If they tell me anything is wrong, I take the card away to remake it before the supplies arrive on Friday. Thankfully, everything seems in order today which means about half the stock items have now successfully been transferred over to the new system.

 

09:00 – I head upstairs to Level 7 for a meeting with the other Business Managers and the Service Manager to discuss how patients’ stays are coded within the various hospital systems. Coding is extremely important as it is how hospitals recoup the money for treating patients; however, it is also incredibly complicated as every patient is different.

We have recently started using a new piece of software that enables us to see how long each patient stayed in the hospital, exactly how many consumables or drug doses they were given, and how much we received for their care. The aim is to highlight outliers and understand why that patient received a different experience.

The meeting concentrated mainly on ward based procedures so I didn’t have any tasks to take away but I did learn a lot about bone marrow transplants. I’ve been trying to ask more questions in meetings recently so I highlighted a couple of points that looked out of place to me.  


10:30 – Quick dash back downstairs to check my emails over a cup of tea. I have a few responses to the new Snapchat (nhsgradscheme) rota I sent out this week where I’ll need to swap a few trainees around to cover Annual Leave.

There’s also an email from Estates and Facilities about postage. I’d asked if we could get our post counted separately as we are planning on reducing our postage by going Paperlite and I need to know what impact could be expected. The data shows that we have been sending items 1st Class Signed For, and I’m not aware of any Signed For items, or any 1st Class items for that matter, so I’ll need to dig a little deeper into why that has happened.

 

11:00 – I head over to Trust HQ to have a meeting with the Director of Quality. Upon the advice of my Programme Manager (a manager who oversees your entire time on the scheme) I’d reached out to him to discuss his role in giving patients a quality service but also ensuring the trust learns from any mistakes or near misses.

After our meeting, we agreed I should sit in on some of the committee meetings he is involved with, such as Risk Management or Patient Experience, to further my development. In my current role, I wouldn’t normally have much involvement with these committees but in a few years, and a few jobs later, I could be called to them to discuss issues within my department.

I came away from the meeting with a better understanding of how trusts, and committees, seek assurance from their staff, rather than reassurance. It’s crucial to not just say that you will solve issues around patient safety, but to prove that you have; to show the change you’ve implemented and what impact that has had.

 

12:00 – Head back to the office for lunch and stop by the Admin Office to ask about the Signed For post. We do send items out using Signed For, though rarely, but they assumed it was all 2nd Class as that is trust policy.  I email back Estates and Facilities my findings and before I can grab lunch our in-house IT specialist drops in with a concern.

We are currently in the process of converting from issuing paper reports to electronic reports, hence reducing our postage, which requires the department to have a contact for every referral source that uses our service. The aim is to have a centralised list that automatically distributes reports when ready. However, this morning he discovered that the Medical Secretaries have a different list of contacts to his own and might be working on the project differently to him. Thankfully, this isn’t new to me and I reassure him that I have slowly been validating and transferring this second list to the centralised one. Taking on board my new-found appreciation of reassurance and assurance, I suggest that until this process is complete I add in an extra check to make sure that every report is getting to the referrer as quickly as possible.

 

12:30 – Lunch time! Whilst warming up lunch one of the research scientists asks me what will happen after I leave this placement and if I know anything about a new piece of equipment the department is getting. I explain that there is a team of Business Managers in the entire service so they will continue to provide support to the department. For the new piece of equipment however, I have less answers so I offer to find out more and get back to him next week.

 

13:00 – I am currently redeveloping the department’s public facing website. However, I’ve been having some difficulties replacing our old website with the new one. I decide to call the company and see if I can get it sorted as I’d put aside the afternoon to work on the new site.

 

13:30 – The IT specialist comes back with a few more concerns about our reporting project so I suggest we sit down and go through everything to confirm the progress so far. There are four steps for transferring referrers to the electronic system and he wants to make sure that we agree on where we think each referrer is at. Once everything is agreed, I make a few phone calls to see how some referrers are getting on and to make sure everything is running smoothly. Normally, on these calls they mention something else they’d like to discuss so I make a note of the query and get back to them once I’ve discussed it with the relevant staff member.

Whilst I’m not on the phone, a couple of the scientists drop into the office to ask me a few questions about the new Training Record I developed for the department. I share the office with the Training Officer so whilst I only developed the new record, I tend to be asked a lot of questions about the type of evidence people need to provide, especially as I’m in the office more often than her. Most of the questions are about the record itself, as they have a deadline of March 31st to complete it, but a few I’m not sure on. I offer my best answer and will get back to them once I’ve discussed it with the Training Officer. 

 

15:30 – The website issue still isn’t fixed so I ring the company back. The issue is solved, though they say it won’t take affect for several hours. Frustratingly, that means I’ll need to find another afternoon to set aside to update the site. 

 

15:40 – The department is being painted this week so everyone is having to sort their offices. As I’ve been changing the stockroom it seems I’ve become the go-to person for questions about excess IT equipment. I designate an area in the stockroom for any excess equipment and arrange for IT to collect and recycle it once everyone’s offices have been sorted and painted.

 

15:50 – I stop by one of the scientists’ office to discuss a project she is wanting to start next month. She is planning on changing a diagnostic test for a newer technique and I need her to give me some details about what the impact on quality, turnaround times, costs and staffing time will be. The initial data from a small-scale trial she gives me all suggest it’s a promising development but any changes need to be supported by evidence. I have a meeting next Tuesday where the final decision will be made.  

 

16:00 – As I had planned to work on the website this afternoon but can’t, I decide to spend some time working on my To-Do List. In my notebook, there is a list of tasks that never stops growing. It’s a hugely satisfying moment when I’ve finished every task on a page and can remove it! I decide to get some of the smaller, quicker tasks completed such as requesting access to the software programme from this morning’s meeting, or arranging a tutorial on how to use Datix, our risk and incident management software.

Estates and Facilities get back to me about the 1st Class postage so that mystery is solved. We agree to monitor the postage levels for a few more months as it has been useful.

 

16:50 – I head out the office slightly earlier than usual as I need to get home before 18:15 today. Before heading out I make sure my To-Do list is up-to date and that I’ve answered, or at least read, all my emails. I also write down a few reflections on the day – what I thought went well, what didn’t, what to change in the future.

On my way, out my supervisor asks me for an update on the User Survey I was working on. I’ve not done any work on it today but I explain that I’ve collated all the data, we received some helpful feedback from referrers, and I should have it finished for her by the end of next week.    

Fiona Woodhall

Fiona Woodhall

2016 intake

In 2016, I graduated from the University of St Andrews with a Masters in Chemistry. I applied to the scheme as I wanted a challenging and changing environment to develop my skills further whilst also helping others, whether patients, co-workers or anyone in between. During my degree I was involved in technical theatre and managing various events including charitable fundraisers. When I’m not event managing I love to travel or watch films with friends.

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