Five things I wish I knew before I started: Alicia Spence


In our new series, we ask our key thought leaders to share a more personal perspective on their career journey and current position.

Alicia is our Customer Success Manager at Orion Health. Alicia works alongside customers to improve the Orion Health product offering and customer experience.

Her focus is on bringing her experience as a ‘customer’ whilst working for Commonwealth and State Government organisations and NSW hospitals where she was responsible for implementing state-wide and local projects, frameworks and/or initiatives to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of patient care delivery spanning breast screening, mental health, emergency care, neurosurgery, orthopaedics, cardiology, surgery and anaesthetics.

Can you share with us five things you wish you knew before you started out?

Engage the right stakeholders from the beginning

By not engaging the “right” stakeholders, I found that the very thing I was implementing was not suitable for the day-to-day operations of clinical services. Ever since I have ensured that any committees or workshop groups formulated involves the very people that will be impacted by the change (mitigating the risk of a “too senior” engagement).

Succinctly define the “core” business problem

Healthcare delivery is complex and challenging with multiple moving parts. It is sometimes difficult to stay “true” to the core problems that clinicians face as where do we start? I would often get overwhelmed in the “detail” and have learnt to see the bigger picture now. Without addressing core challenges in healthcare, we run the risk of not making a substantial difference to where it will count most.

Challenge the status quo

Early in my career whilst working for the Australian Government, I accepted the associated hierarchy and never asked “why” a certain decision was made. Even when I believed that a decision was not correct or ill-advised, I did not speak up as I felt I was not senior enough. Decision-makers only know what they know and sometimes they do not have the “full” picture to make evidence-informed decisions. I now see the value of speaking up and remaining true to myself no matter who is in the room. Who knows, it may save senior decision-makers from making the wrong decision after all!

Effective communication is key

When communicating with others, we often focus on what we should say. Effective communication is less about talking and more about listening. Listening well means not just understanding the words or the information being communicated, but also understanding the emotions the speaker is trying to convey. This is an area that I continue to work on as it is an ongoing skill in itself!

Step in your stakeholders’ shoes every now and then

Whilst effective communication helps, the ability to connect to stakeholders in a meaningful way is crucial. Putting yourself in your stakeholders’ shoes allows you to understand where they are now and where they want to be as well as any blockers that are limiting them in achieving their vision for change. This is where a “true” partnership with your stakeholders will occur.

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