KSS AHSN is looking for two new colleagues to join its Industry TechNav team. Jill Owens, who joined as Programme Manager in 2019, gives us an insight into the role, the impacts you can make, and what it’s like to work at KSS AHSN.

Can you explain what the Industry TechNav role is?

Essentially we act as a bridge of support between the health and social care system and innovators/companies. We are the ears to the ground within the system listening to local needs and local priorities, determining any gaps, needs and pressure points that could be addressed by industry or healthtech products. This could be through spread of well evidenced technology into that site or working with entrepreneurs to co-design a solution to help fix those problems.

Working with and supporting system colleagues, we use that information to find whether there’s a product that exists, or could be created, to match that need.

We also support innovators who come to us with solutions to sense check the value in their product at solving problems, and we’re then able to go back out to the system to see if their innovation is what’s needed at that time and give feedback which helps innovators develop a better fit – whether that be developing evidence, regulatory requirements or changes to the product. This can then lead to supporting that innovator to review and or develop their real world evidence of value and impact, both from the point of view of the patient or citizens and the system partner.

Why did you apply for the role?

My background is in public health, and what appeals to me about that discipline is its ability to benefit a large number of the population at the same time with one intervention.

It’s a similar approach in this role – one innovation can support transformation in the system. We can help people to be diagnosed quicker, we can help them to find care more accessible, we can help the work force to free up time to be able to carry out other tasks or see more patients.

A lot of healthcare is about helping one individual in that moment, which is wonderful, but what’s always appealed to me is being able to benefit a lot of people through one action.

What’s the best thing about your role?

We’ve got a fantastic team. We have managers and team mates that give you respect and encourage you to stretch yourself and try things. We share learning from each person and programme and support each other to develop to the best that we could possibly be. Patient safety and ethics are paramount, but within that we are encouraged to be as innovative as the products we work with.

What elements of your career have you brought to the role?

I think it’s the relationship building side of things, bringing together and convening various parts of the system and making sure that you have all the right stakeholders on board. Our work can only succeed if you’ve got senior management buy-in, workforce and patient engagement.

And of course you need to involve the finance and procurement teams. And then there’s the academic element, where you need to make sure that you’ve got the necessary evidence behind the intervention that you’re trying to implement.

So I’d say this role is suitable for somebody who is very good at developing and preserving relationships, and spotting which stakeholders would benefit from being involved in a project and where there are pressure points and needs. Having industry knowledge or experience of working with innovators and/or SMEs would also be really helpful in this role.

What career development opportunities has this role given you?

You get to do a lot of networking within the Kent, Surrey and Sussex health systems, and you also get to know a lot of the regional NHSE health system, academics and others, as well as making contacts up and down the country by working with the other 14 AHSNs. So networking is a huge career development aspect.

In terms of formal training, there are great opportunities around Quality Improvement training – the Q Network has been a really useful resource and being in the AHSN gives you access to Q – they’re some of the best minds in the business that you can interact with.

How would you describe KSS AHSN as an employer?

It really looks after its staff. I think it’s an incredibly compassionate employer. And it’s also a great team, once you get to know them everyone at KSS AHSN has a really interesting background. I’m constantly impressed by the depth of my colleagues’ experience, skills and qualifications – it’s a crack team that is valued by management.