She’s an obsessive sports nut, a crazy cat-lady, and a gifted data-wrangler: Take ten minutes to get to know Emma Wainwright, a PhD student in Practice Analytics at Monash University.

Tell us a little about your life before you started your research / study.
I’m originally from the UK and completed my BSc in Psychology at the University of Liverpool where much of my research focus was on health and ageing. While I chose to move into full-time employment after my degree, I was always looking for an opportunity to get back into education in a way that combined my knowledge with healthcare. Then I moved to Australia in January 2018.

Tell us about your career so far?
Following my degree, I worked as an Area Manager for Aldi UK for four years. This was a great role that taught me a lot about management and leadership. While not an obvious step for a psychology graduate, it allowed me to train and develop management teams in a fast-paced retail environment. During this experience, I was responsible for the commercial performance and staff of four busy inner-city stores. It was a great experience!

What got you interested in digital health?
During my undergraduate degree, a lot of my research focussed on health which gave me an initial interest in pursuing a role in the area. Combining this with growing the amount of data that can be collected and used, I think it’s a really exciting area that will continue to grow for a long time. I am enjoying that the teams within digital health are very multidisciplinary and I admire and learn from them every day.

Tell us about your current research…
My PhD sits within the Practice Analytics project at the DHCRC and the working title of my project is ‘Making Sense of Healthcare Data’. It is a great project because it allows me to combine my interest in psychology and also digital health. Specifically, I am exploring how healthcare professionals make sense of routinely collected data allowing them to reflect on their clinical performance. There are currently three other PhD students in the practice analytics team: Carol, Bernard and Harvey, and our projects fit together perfectly to inform the wider goals of the practice analytics project. I am thankful for the opportunity to work alongside them, I am enjoying every moment.

What are the benefits that we will get from this research?
This research will improve the use of administrative data for reflection and performance improvement. The insights from the practice analytics project will ensure that healthcare professionals are provided with performance data that is ultimately relevant, makes sense, is presented correctly and can support their development.

What benefits have you seen from digital health?
At the moment I am loving my Fitbit. Particularly during lock-down, it was great to get that reminder every hour to get up and move, and then that push to go out and get those 10,000 steps to see the fireworks go off on the little display. I think encouraging people to exercise and move is great, particularly during the challenges of lockdown and restrictions. This piece of technology has really helped me reflect on my activity and health.

You recently participated in the #TelehealthDataChallenge Datathon… What was that experience like and what were your biggest takeaways from doing that?
The Datathon was a great experience and definitely something I would recommend others sign up for. It was good to apply our varied skillsets and interests to a real-world situation and everyone in our team had a part to play. When I initially saw the advert I didn’t know if it was something that I would be selected for as I don’t have a data science background but the whole process was so much more than that! I learned a lot from each team member who were experts within their area and all the work that was presented from the other teams was really engaging and exciting. Thank you to everyone involved in the organisation of the #TelehealthDataChallenge!

What do you like to do when you’re not working or studying?
When I am not studying, I love spending time with my husband Alex and fussing over my two cats – Charlie and Lola – or going out finding tasty food. When I first moved to Australia, I introduced myself to the practice analytics student group as someone who wasn’t really into sport, but Melbourne has well changed that! AFL, NRL, Rugby Union, Cricket, Tennis, F1… you name it and I’ll be up for it! I am really enjoying how accessible sport is here, it’s a great atmosphere, and who doesn’t love a bit of friendly rivalry! (For anyone who follows me on Twitter I apologise in advance for the prolific, under-educated sporting rants.)

Favourite technology?
Aside from my aforementioned Fitbit, and perhaps slightly contradictory, I do love my KitchenAid. I really enjoy cooking and baking both sweet and savoury food and not to sound clichéd, but I really did nail the banana bread during lockdown!

Three words to describe me:
Positive, creative, sociable

Where do you hope to be, five years from now?
Professionally, I hope that I will have completed my PhD and be working in a role that allows me to apply my knowledge and help others. More personally, I hope that I will have seen more of the world, I really enjoy travelling.