Meet Fiona Booth, Head of External Affairs & Stakeholder Engagement
Fiona joined Healthcode in 2018 and was straight into action, supporting the successful launch of The Private Practice Register (The PPR) for private hospitals. Since then, she has worked with hospital groups and industry representatives to ensure that the features and capabilities of The PPR evolve to meet the needs of all stakeholders.
Fiona explains what sets Healthcode apart from other technology companies and how its online services can transform the private healthcare sector.
What did you do before you joined Healthcode?
My first profession was a secondary school science teacher. I then worked in the third sector for 15 years, including five years as Chief Executive at the Hansard Society, a charity which works to strengthen democracy and five as Chief Executive at the Association of Independent Healthcare Organisations (AIHO) which was the trade association for private healthcare providers. While I’ve left the classroom, I think education has been a thread that has run throughout my career as I enjoy communicating with people and answering their burning questions.
Give us an overview of your role at Healthcode?
I’m responsible for engaging with stakeholders across the private healthcare sector to understand their needs. Where possible, I’ll discuss with them how Healthcode can help or I feed this information back to my colleagues so they can find a solution.
I’ve spoken with hospital businesses, PMIs, industry groups like IHPN, consultant representatives like the BMA’s Private Practice Committee and healthcare regulatory bodies like the CQC and GMC. Basically, if there is an organisation out there with a connection to the private healthcare sector then I’d like to have a conversation. For obvious reasons, it’s been difficult to get out and about in the last year and a half but things are starting to open up and I was excited to attend the HSJ Patient Safety Conference in Manchester last month to meet people face to face. I hope to be doing much more of that in the next few months.
What surprised you about Healthcode when you joined?
I knew about Healthcode and their role as a clearing organisation for medical billing but I was unaware of the wealth of data that Healthcode securely processes on behalf of private healthcare stakeholders. Of course, that soon changed as I saw how Healthcode’s expertise in secure data exchange enabled us to develop exciting online services like The PPR which support good governance and help organisations meet their regulatory obligations.
How does Healthcode contribute to the private healthcare sector?
Healthcode have always made a big contribution to the private health sector, from our products and services, to the way we work.
To begin at the beginning, Healthcode were established to develop an efficient and secure way for healthcare providers to bill private medical insurers and over the last twenty years, our Clearing Service has facilitated the private healthcare sector’s transition to electronic billing. Along the way we have become market leaders in online products and services for the private healthcare sector that help to streamline operations and automate time-consuming processes.
That remains at the core of what we do but I think our real strength lies in our collaborative, ‘by industry for industry approach’ which sees us work closely with stakeholders across the sector. This is what lies behind the development of solutions like The PPR that bring organisations together and support better ways of working.
Why is it important for the private healthcare sector to embrace new technology and how is Healthcode taking a lead on this?
The private healthcare sector is rightly concerned with delivering a safe, high-quality patient experience and technology furthers that cause. It also provides the means to respond effectively to the needs of patients and the changing landscape of private healthcare.
To take a Healthcode example that is close to my heart, The PPR is a secure online platform that connects more than 41,000 practitioners, PMIs and more than 300 private hospitals. That paves the way for more effective and efficient communication and information-sharing across the sector and the availability of accurate data about practitioners.
In developing The PPR, Healthcode has been mindful of what has been happening in the private health sector such as the adoption of the Medical Practitioners Assurance Framework (MPAF) by private hospitals. This prompted us to expand The PPR to include a new Scope of Practice section, initially using data captured from validated hospital bills to show the CCSD-coded procedures performed by a consultant at private hospital and clinic sites. We are now working to complete the scope of practice section to match the rest of the data requirements in the MPAF, including information about practitioners’ NHS practice. Of course, we are consulting across the sector to ensure we get it right for all stakeholders.
What are your ambitions for the PPR and for Healthcode?
The PPR has become a trusted source of practitioner information but we have yet to see its full potential. Within a few years, I want the private health sector to be able to use The PPR as a resource for managing practising privileges and information-sharing to support effective clinical governance and safe, high-quality care.
In the longer term, I want Healthcode to be a driving force for technological progress in private healthcare and be instrumental in finding creative online solutions to the challenges facing the sector. Our close relationships with PMIs, hospitals and practitioners mean Healthcode are well-placed to facilitate change and encourage these stakeholders to collaborate on transformative sector-wide projects.
And finally, how do you switch off in your free time?
While born in the UK, I grew up in Australia and came to the UK in my twenties so travel is in my blood. There hasn’t been much opportunity to explore foreign soil lately but my partner and I have found some real gems for staycations. I enjoy eating out but I made up for the closure of restaurants during lockdown by exploring some international cuisines in my own kitchen. In what’s left of my free time, I love being out in the garden and growing as many different flowers as possible.