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Meet Our Team | Tom Rees

Meet Healthcode’s Head of IT Operations

What did you do before joining Healthcode?

I’ve spent my 30-year career in technology, starting as a software developer before moving into project management and service management and then more senior leadership roles. During that time, I’ve worked in a number of industries, from travel to housing to telecoms and insurance and now private healthcare. It’s been quite a challenge to get up to speed with all the terminology and acronyms but after six months I no longer feel like the new boy.  

Tell us about your current job and responsibilities?

Basically, it’s my job to look after all our IT systems and keep the lights on for customers and staff. That means ensuring that everyone can log onto the company network and access the applications they need to do their job well and making sure that our products and services are performing at their best for users and their patients. It’s a serious business because thousands of people depend on us so it’s critical that our systems are robust and reliable.

Have you been able to apply your experience in previous IT roles to your current job?

Our Transformation Programme has seen us adopt a different working methodology called DevOps and I’ve had experience of this transition in my previous roles. In the bad old days, what used to happen was that a development team would throw a new product to the operations team like a hot potato saying: ‘there you go, it’s your problem now’ and leave them struggling to implement it. The DevOps approach is to put these teams together so they can work hand-in-hand to develop a product that hits the brief from everyone’s perspective, most of all the customer.

The move to DevOps is a massive piece of work and we’re still on that journey. We’ve now created seven different teams to work on projects and an important part of my day-to-day job is bedding them in, getting the communications side working well and ensuring everyone understands what is expected of them.

I’ve also brought in strategies to help us make the most efficient use of Amazon Web Services which now host all our applications. As well as being more resilient, it’s much quicker and easier to build our solutions using the cloud platform but of course it’s equally important to actively keep track of projects and spending so that the final product is good value for our customers.

What projects are you working on just now?

We’ve targeted several big projects for delivery this year and I’m involved with several of these, alongside my work on DevOps. Once the coding work is complete, my job is to ensure the development is heading in the right direction and identify any pitfalls in the road ahead that we need to guard against. For example, I was focusing on ICE, our appointment booking solution, which involved building a dashboard allowing us to monitor how well the service is operating. We’ve already been getting a lot of interest from our customers but naturally they want to ensure that what we are doing is going to meet their needs and the dashboard will help answer these questions.  

IT security is a huge concern in healthcare – how do you reassure customers that their sensitive data is safe with Healthcode?

We’ve long been signed up to the Government-backed Cyber Essentials scheme and ISO 27001 information security standards which are important because they are awarded by independent organisations. We spend a lot of time and effort to ensure we maintain these certifications because they actually set us apart from some of the other players in this industry.

We also train staff in information security and data protection, alongside a rigorous testing programme to identify potential security weaknesses, such as our susceptibility to phishing attacks. We do this by regularly sending out test emails to everyone and seeing what they do – I actually had one of these myself this morning in my inbox and I’m pleased to say I successfully identified it and hit the Phish Alert button we’ve enabled in Outlook.

What do you enjoy most about working at Healthcode?

It’s a great bunch of people. At my previous company I was working in a large testing area within one department which wasn’t a very lively environment. It’s much more fun to work here where different parts of the business interact with each other and we can bounce ideas around.

And finally, how do you switch off outside work?

I’ve been investing in property for many years which keeps me busy although it’s not relaxing. For that I love to travel and I try to make a couple of trips each year with my family. As I’m originally from South Wales, I’m also a big rugby supporter and I was very excited to be able to go to Bordeaux for the first match in our Rugby World Cup campaign.

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