Andrew Inchley has built his career on getting to the heart of issues and constructing innovative solutions. Over the last 12 years with us, he has embraced opportunities to refine a unique skill set, blending pharmaceutical knowledge with a solid grounding in IT.
Meet Andrew Inchley
Finding your niche: Icon’s compounding IT Guru
It’s a combination that earned him nominations for the Icon Group Innovate Award in 2018 and 2019, and a reputation as the go-to tech guru for Icon’s compounding division – Slade Health.
Andrew first joined Icon via our pharmacy division in late 2007, as a Compounding Pharmacist at Slade Pharmacy in Richmond. Twelve years on, he’s our GMP (Good Manufacturing Practice) Systems Manager for Icon’s compounding division – Slade Health – at Mt Waverley. It’s a diverse role in which Andrew serves as the interface between operations on the manufacturing floor and the IT systems that drive them.
“A lot of what we do is around quality assurance and reporting. We challenge the system we’ve designed to ensure it will behave the way we expect, and we analyse it to identify areas for improvement. We look at ways to help users make decisions, reduce errors, and provide clearer and synthesised information.”
It’s no surprise then, that Andrew says the best part of his role is the challenge of problem solving.
“I could never be bored in a job. I’m driven by the unique challenges of every day. I’m lucky enough to be invited to assist on projects that call for innovative solutions. I have the chance to look at something and say, ‘we can do it differently, we can do it better.’ And this is what Icon’s compounding division promises – change and progress.”
Andrew says it’s his growth-mindset and a healthy dose of curiosity that has brought him to where he is today.
Early days as a graduate pharmacist
After leaving school in 1998, Andrew enrolled in a pharmaceutical degree at Monash University, Melbourne. He began working part time in a dispensary, focusing on non-sterile compounding – the process of formulating customised medication for patients.
“I’d always wanted to work in healthcare. My mother was a nurse. I didn’t want to be a doctor, and pharmacy seemed like it would give me a good opportunity to make a difference.”
At his first job, Andrew quickly saw an opportunity to improve the batch sheet (pharmaceutical labels) database and bolster its capabilities.
“The batch sheets were just Word documents saved on a hard drive. I had an interest in IT, so I constructed a database that would hold all the formulations and calculate prices according to each formulation’s ingredients.”
His craftsmanship in addressing the issue would be a preamble to the narrative of his career.
Joining the Icon and Slade family
After graduating, Andrew packed his bags and headed to Mackay to help set up a non-sterile compounding facility. After eight months however, he was ready to move home to be closer to family and friends. Returning to Melbourne he worked as a locum pharmacist for over a year, gaining experience across a number of pharmacies. With a growing curiosity about the world of hospital pharmacy, he joined Icon’s pharmacy division via Slade Richmond as a compounding pharmacist in November 2007. A year into his role, Andrew embraced with both arms the opportunity to step up into a leadership position.
“I learned a lot very quickly – how to run and maintain a clean room and how to lead people. Slade put me on a management course; a practical course to help me transition from a technical role to leading people. It gave me confidence in what I was doing, and it demonstrated Slade’s confidence in me.”
As Andrew took over the suite, he and his team felt it was time to put their procedures under the microscope. Again, Andrew found an opportunity to improve the batch sheet database.
“Our software required us to do a lot of manual calculations after the batch sheet had been printed, which was contributing to errors and near-misses. So I looked at how I could manipulate the coding of the database to improve the process. We worked out what information the system could calculate for us and completely redesigned the label. Once we implemented the new coding, we saw a massive reduction in mistakes.”
The next mission
Impressed with how the suite was performing, Andrew and his team were assigned their next challenge: to supply our hospital pharmacy at Merewether. After a two-month sprint of implementing a new level of production planning, the suite was flying. On the back of that success, the ante was upped again: it was time to build, commission and license a brand new TGA level compounding facility. Andrew was part of the small and agile team that made it all happen. And over the next two years, Slade Health, Icon’s compounding division, was born.
“It was a massive effort from all of us to lay down the new supply lines and establish the Mt Waverley facility – all while running the Richmond pharmacy compounding suite. Once we moved into the Waverley facility, I stepped into a research and IT support role, assisting in developing quality management procedures.”
All in: transitioning to an IT role
When Slade Health joined Icon Group in 2015, Andrew and his team were exposed to the customised software of another facility; an advanced system which they wanted to see at Waverley.
“This is where Slade Health and Icon really invested in me. They put me on a course to teach me the fundamentals of the new software. I was able to take those learnings and further develop and customise the software.”
The software training fueled Andrew’s passion for IT processes, so he decided to step into a role solely focused on IT processes, as our GMP Systems Manager.
“We’ve continued to develop the software, including adding a web-based ordering portal to allow customers to place orders from anywhere in the world. This was a big achievement because it has reduced reliance on our operators. We’ve also built a clinical oncology system interface for health professionals and patients to send orders to us directly. We’re always looking at ways to revolutionise our operating systems.”
Icon Group: a place to explore and grow
Looking back on his career so far with Slade Health and Icon Group, Andrews says that he appreciates the opportunity to implement his ideas, and to grow with the organisation.
“Slade Health and Icon Group welcome innovation. They’re open to change and doing things differently. I’ll present something and they’ll say, ‘Hey, great idea. Let’s run with it’. You have the opportunity to grow at Icon Group. I started in a clinical role but I’ve embraced different opportunities over the years, as a result I’ve uncovered a unique role which really suits my interests. In a diverse organisation like Icon Group, I believe everyone can find their niche.”