I’ve been caring for my mother since I was 9 years old and for the life of me I don’t know how both of us have survived it! (I’ve wanted to throw her down the stairs a few times)! While we’ve been told to prepare for the worst 3 times, however she continues to defy the laws of mortality. The one thing I cannot deny is that my mum is a SURVIVOR and has battled her way through cancer, reconstructive surgery, a liver transplant and plenty of other obstacles. Yet, I of course continue to love and care for her … here’s hoping the good karma’s going to come around for me!
It has been my job for the last 21 years (showing my age here) to understand how to care for my mother, what she requires, who the best consultants are and then making the key care decisions.
However most recently my two jobs have married together – my job as my mother’s carer and my job as a recruiter in the Medical Technology & Medical Devices space.
The hip replacement with a side of fantastic care
The most recent ordeal, albeit less serious, has been a hip replacement. The surgery was fairly minor by mother’s standards, yet we had a bit of a battle on our hands to get the “green-light” due to the potential risks involved in her recovery (all down to the catalogue of health history!). But after 2 years of waiting and a couple of cancelled operation dates we finally got her on the operating table.
I must say the care we received at Kings Mill Hospital in Mansfield was outstanding – Mr John and the whole NHS team assigned to my mother were amazing and couldn’t do enough for us. Having spent a large proportion of my life in various hospitals, the treatment and experience we had at Kings Mill was by far the best!
New level of appreciation – my two jobs coming together
Mr John and I knew that the surgery was likely to be successful but the recovery was our concern – predominantly due to the liver rejection medication and a high-dosage of immunosuppressants. 24 hours post op we got ready for the recovery challenges headed our way: in the form of a chest blood clot, chest infection (possible sepsis), slight wound haematoma and her body rejecting the antibacterial wound packing!
Because of this we needed a lot of support from the clinical team – from critical care through to wound management. This is where my work brain came into action – day in day out I speak with candidates and clients about the products and technologies that were being used on my mum. For the first time ever, my professional and personal world collided and provided me with an opportunity to learn about these products directly from the clinical professionals.
I experienced a whole new level of appreciation for what the individuals do and how fantastic these products are!
The products – quality vs. cost
So, we often get to talk about the ‘sexier’ products – those capital surgical systems that revolutionise the theatre environment. However, some devices and products are perceived as less interesting to represent or support – I can tell you that they still have a massive impact on patient care and recovery.
The restrictions within NHS procurement structure can often mean that the consultants and clinical staff cannot access all products for patients due to having a higher cost. I think this is a real shame. At one point, Mr John was keen to use a specific advanced wound management device that he was certain would be hugely beneficial to my mum’s wound healing issues. However due to the costs of such devices there was a struggle to secure constant stock levels within the hospital. Mr John pursued what he knew was the best treatment and although there was a bit of a battle he managed to secure the product.
Mr John had clearly been trained by the device manufacturer on the use of this product – however it became apparent that he was the only person within that department that did!
High demand for clinical application consultants – no wonder!
Last year I saw a sharp increase in the demand for clinical applications consultants and specialists across various medical disciplines…including for this specific advanced wound management device. These individuals are unique as they act as the conduit between clinical need, clinical practice and commercial sales. They are focused on demonstrating the products and then training doctors, consultants and specialist nurses to a clinically competent level.
Due to the rapid changes in technology, some of these super cool products require a new level of understanding. In my experience at this hospital and in my day job… this demand still very much exists! It is clear to me that there are some frustrations amongst clinical professionals: to ensure that patients are getting the best possible care, they want to use the latest products on patients, but the lack of available clinical applications consultants can restrict clinical competency in the hospital environment resulting in a lack of product knowledge and ultimately sales.
During 2017 it certainly appears that most medical device companies and OEMs have realised this and are working towards establishing a clinical and technical support team across most product markets.
Typically, this talent is not easy to find – we are looking to take clinical professionals out of a direct healthcare function and transition them into commercial professionals. They need to be highly knowledgeable and have a real understanding of the products to make a powerful proposition that influences sales. I’ve always been enthused about the latest medical technologies and innovations, but this whole process gave me the opportunity to actually see what a difference the recruitment industry can make to the UK healthcare system.
By evening and weekend, I continue to support mothers recovery… and by day I continue to tackle the nationwide supply and demand issues faced in the clinical application specialist market!
Natasha Szombara – +44 (0) 1522 812 247 – firstname.lastname@example.org