INTERVIEW 19: PAMELA SCICLUNA

1. Tell us your story … 

I grew up in country Victoria on a farm 10km outside of Sale in East Gippsland and moved to Melbourne to study Computer Science & Software Engineering at Swinburne University of Technology. I started my career as a software developer working for the University’s commercial arm. That is where I had my first taste of the healthcare industry, after we won a contract to deliver a decision support and real-time prompting system for The Alfred’s Trauma Centre in 2006. I was also managing the project and was fortunate enough to travel to the USA which is where I realised how much room for innovation there was in this industry. I absolutely feel in love with healthcare technology and I decided to commit my career to it. For over 10 years I’ve had Project Manager, General Manager and Executive roles in small to large companies specialising in health technology including Pen Computer Systems and HealthConnex, a Telstra Health business. I’ve had the opportunities to improve everything from primary care, community, acute and national health infrastructure. I am currently an Executive Director of Kianza, which solves emerging and niche healthcare problems through solution development and consulting; an Executive Director at Medtasker, a mobile communication and task management platform for hospitals; and a Non-Executive Director at Leap in!, a plan management platform for the disability sector. I also currently chair the Health Informatics Society of Australia (HISA)’s User Experience Community of Practice.

2The Interpreters spend a lot of time trying to understand our clients’ customers and segments within the market. How do you get to know your customers?

I generally meet our potential customers at networking events like conferences or more commonly through referrals from our existing networks. I work hard to stay up to date with what is happening in the industry because healthcare is a broad sector and it is really important to understand the changes, challenges and trends in the industry.

I understand our customers and their needs by talking to them and meeting with them regularly.  I try to gain insights by understanding their world and try to make sure they get value from every conversation by giving them some information or an insight into the market that I’ve learnt from somewhere else.

Once I understand the problems they are facing, we work through different options to find a solution that best suits their needs and approach. Once we’ve proved a bit of value by helping with one problem, we try to maintain a close relationship, so that we are front of mind when they have other problems they want to address. Helping them to be successful with quick wins, in bite sized chunks, is a really good way to earn credibility and trust.

3. We do a lot of problem solving at The Interpreters, so we’re interested in how other people solve problems. How do you approach problem solving?

Listening is really important. We have two ears, one mouth.  It is good to try to use them in that proportion. Remembering to ask questions to get to the root of the problems is always a better approach than jumping into solution mode. I believe in spending most of my time understanding the problem properly. Once I understand the problem, I gather other data and research and then I will usually share my thinking with others (colleagues / other customers) to get their point of view and experience, so we can determine the most appropriate solutions. It’s rare that we’re the first people to tackle any problem, but joining the dots from other people’s learning is not as common as you’d think – perhaps it’s because it’s not as fun?

4. Interpretation is subjective but a key part of our analysis. We’re always interested in the ways other people might interpret key trends or things of interest from their specialism. How do you interpret the changing demographics of Australia?

The key demographic trend that we’re focused on is the ageing population, which will require Australia to approach care differently. For example, looking internationally and across cultures to analyse different models of care for our elderly. We are already seeing a lot of shifts, like hospital in the home programs which allow hospital-level care for patients in their own home. One of the big challenges we are facing is how we can help people have good quality of life as they age. The focus is trending away from hospitals to focus more on in-home and community care.

5. Because we firmly believe that Information is Beautiful, we would like to give you a copy of Information is Beautiful, ‘a stunning visual journey through the most revealing trends, fascinating facts and vital statistics of the modern world’. Because first impressions matter, have a scan through and tell us which visualisation caught your attention and why?

Thank you. It’s a beautiful book. The two pictures which caught my attention are:

  1. Books Everyone Should Read.  I love the simplicity of the word cloud which instinctively draws your attention to the most recommended books, e.g. To Kill a Mockingbird is quite eye-catching.
  2. Types of Coffee. The symmetry of the coffee cups across the two pages caught my eye. I like the elegance of how the rough proportions of the ingredients are represented. It’s very easy to understand. The pronunciation of the different types of coffee in brackets is a nice touch.

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