As a project development manager at Luto, I work with a range of clients all over the world, including pharmaceutical companies, medical device manufacturers, the NHS, charities and universities. As communications specialists, we help people to enhance their information materials, making them clear and easy to read. We work on a range of products, from package leaflets that you receive with your medicines and instructions for using medical devices (such as insulin pens), to training materials and clinical trials information. A crucial part of the process is testing the materials with real users at every stage of the development process. This is an area that I really like getting involved in, as it is always so interesting to see how people use information and interact with medical devices or technology. You can never assume how an individual will follow instructions. I’ve heard some interesting stories about people misunderstanding information. In one case, a diabetic patient complained to their doctor that they couldn’t eat any more oranges to take their insulin. When this was investigated, the patient had been trained how to inject using an orange and they continued this practice, injecting the orange with insulin and then eating the orange!
We have a great team at Luto with a range of specialists. This includes interviewers, project leaders, graphic designers, pharmacists and academics. Our academic advisors have a wealth of experience in health information and psychology. They not only get involved in writing information but also help to develop methodology that defines our testing activities. Together we’re proud to produce innovative and interesting communication materials. One of the great things about my job is that I get to travel and meet really fascinating people. In the United States, regulations state that information aimed at an American audience must be tested on US soil. Fortunately this means we also conduct testing in the US and I’ve had the pleasure of visiting Chicago recently. It’s a great city and happens to be where our US Academic Advisor is based. I’m also looking forward to visiting Düsseldorf in November. Luto will be exhibiting at the Compamed International Trade Fair. Although exhibitions can be very exhausting, I love them because it enables me to meet new people and talk about patient information.
My career started in a completely different industry. I worked for Marks and Spencer in their Head Office for over 10 years. Having a graphic design background has meant that I’ve always had an interest in design, so my creativity has always been weaved into my career. I was always asked to design company newsletters or promotional items for projects I managed. As the use of the internet started to increase, I got involved in web design and this lead me to my first job in the NHS. I worked as a Macmillan Project Manager in Greater Manchester, setting up cancer information and support services in Salford and Trafford. From personal experience of cancer, I had seen firsthand how information and support can really make a difference. In 2004 I joined NHS Direct as a Project Manager. I managed a number of interesting projects for the Department of Health as part of the 2004 Information Strategy. This included managing the pilots for the Information Standard. In 2009 I gained a Masters Degree in Health Communication Design, from Coventry University. Unfortunately the course is no longer available, but I know there is a lot of interest from PiF members in a distance learning course. This would also be valuable to doctors and nurses as part of their training.
PiF membership has been very valuable to me. I’ve been a member for a number of years and all of the Luto team has membership too. The weekly emails are a useful roundup of news and events, often featuring things I’ve not seen through other channels. I particularly enjoy the regional events that are organized around the county. Having attended a few in Manchester recently, I can highly recommend them to everyone. I enjoy networking and joining other like minded people to debate and promote patient information. We all need to keep high quality information on the agenda, ensuring that it continues to be an essential part of healthcare and is accessible to all.