Obituary: Dr Colin Fincham

1969 - 2021


Dr Colin Fincham MMBS LLB (Hons) FFCI FFBS CMQ was a globally experienced health IT leader who contributed significantly to the early success of the Faculty of Clinical Informatics. Colin understood clinical informatics to be the core of his professional career, delivering high quality informatics training and support to clinicians and patient advocates alike. Colin will be dearly missed by us all.

Colin went into medicine to be able to improve the lives and those that were unwell or less fortunate them himself, he started this from a very young age, with voluntary work with St John Ambulance. He qualified with honours as a doctor from The Medical College of St Bartholomew’s Hospital in 1992. Colin’s quest for education and learning never ended, with a first class law degree from the The College of Law and Open University, a postgraduate certificate in Business Administration, and certifications in machine learning and medical quality. 

Following clinical practice in both hospital medicine and general practice, Colin took up a full-time partner role in General Practice in Summerlands Surgery in Farnborough, Kent. In this time, he chaired both the Diabetes Primary Care Group and the Primary Care Development Team for Information Management and Technology at Bromley Primary Care Trust. He was responsible for developing the PCT’s Primary Care Information Technology Strategy and developed a programme to encourage use of IT within primary care.

After transitioning from clinical practice, Colin became Director of APIRA, a healthcare IT consultancy in London. His work here included implementing systems to support patient choice and electronic booking of appointment for NHS Choose and Book, the introduction of a drug monitoring programme for South East London, and he was the data migration and analysis lead for the first Cerner electronic patient record implementation in the UK. During this time, Colin was responsible for managing Access Control policies and processes for the National Programme for IT’s products (NHS Smartcards), a project he felt was one of the most contributory of his career with national impact and where he obtained agreement on role based access control frameworks from the BMA and many Royal Colleges.

In 2009 Colin moved to the Middle East as the Programme Director for the Wareed Programme implementing Cerner’s electronic patient record system in 14 hospitals and 68 clinics in the 5 Northern Emirates of the UAE under the leadership of the Ministry of Health. In this role, Colin impacted the lives of millions of patients using clinical informatics to improve health and care outcomes. He developed a programme called the Performance and Clinical Excellence Programme (PACE) which developed more than 30 performance metrics for clinical care across multiple clinical areas leading to significant improvements including improving A&E 4hr waits from 89% in 2014 to over 95% in 2017 and improvements in skin breakdown, falls assessment and pain assessment from approximately 55% in 2013 to over 90% of inpatients in 2017.

Following this successful scale implementation, Colin took up the role of Chief Medical Officer for Cerner where he has provided clinical informatics leadership across Europe, Middle East, Africa, Latin America, Asia Pacific and Canada, responsible for clinical safety, quality and clinical adoption of Cerner solutions throughout the regions. Colin was passionate about working with clients across the regions to ensure clinical informatics brings improvements in operations and clinical practices, with great success including impact on handover time by nurses allowing 2,000+ hours to be reallocated to clinical care in UAE, an increase in 300% of Faecal Occult Blood screening for Bowel cancer in Saudi, and a reduction in wait time from 68 mins to 9 mins for Children undergoing chemotherapy in Egypt. 

Colin’s final project shortly before he stopped work was working with his colleagues setting up the Nightingale Hospitals in the UK and in a wider global reach of field hospitals around the world during the Covid Pandemic that has affected all of our lives. He was instrumental in configuring the mass vaccination workflows in Cerner’s software that was piloted in Milton Keynes in the UK.

Colin was committed to professionalism. He lived true to his own words “I passionately believe that the role of a leader is to educate those who will be the future of our industry”. He was certified as Level 3 in the UK Council for Health Informatics Professions, a Fellow of BCS, The Chartered Institute for IT, and was admitted as a Fellow of the Faculty of Clinical Informatics in the initial cohorts. He developed Cerner’s Physician Leadership Programme (a CMIO boot camp) introducing informatics to the physician community, and taught across the US, Middle East, Egypt and Australia. Colin worked closely for many years with Dee Stewart, Cerner’s Chief Nursing Officer, and together they developed a Nursing Informatics course for the National University of Singapore, as well as Middle East courses on Health Informatics.

As a Founding Fellow, Colin had long standing involvement and dedication to the Faculty of Clinical Informatics. He sat on the admission panel for many years, was a member of the governance and representation standing committee, and was serving on our Council at the time of his passing. He was passionate about ensuring that the Faculty utilised the broad backgrounds and skills of all its Fellows, Members and Associates. He leveraged his experience to help represent and engage commercial and international members, and to help those clinical informaticians that are moving to and from national and public sector employers. 

Academically, Colin was a peer reviewer for many clinical informatics journals including the Journal of Medical Informatics, The Journal of Internet Research and Journal for mHealth and uHealth. Colin presented, lectured and appear on TV (MNBC) across the globe on topics as diverse as leadership in healthcare IT, change management, information governance, and use of data in improving healthcare. Colin’s influence was considerable, including regular meetings with Ministers and Undersecretaries of Governments to help guide the delivery of health care for the Citizens of their respective countries.

Colin had been diagnosed with brain cancer in May 2021 and following radiotherapy and chemotherapy, he died incredibly peacefully in the arms of his husband Malcolm at the Accord Hospice in Paisley on 5 December 2021.

Colin requested that any funds that would have been spent on cards and flowers in relation to his funeral or memorials to be diverted in the form of donations to the Accord Hospice Charity