Name: Gordon Alexander
Organization: IBM Canada
Title: Healthcare Industry Technical Leader, IBM Innovation Space
What is your role with the HHS/IBM Innovation Exchange?
My role is to provide technical direction and to act as a “trusted advisor” by providing innovative thought leadership in the selection, architecture, development and recommendation of technology solutions and strategies to address business opportunities and challenges within the healthcare industry. I draw upon IBM’s methodologies and intellectual capital to utilize our best practices in support of innovation and rapid prototyping such as IBM Design Thinking and Agile Development. I help the project teams understand, assess, and transform healthcare services in order to leverage new and emerging technologies such as Cloud Computing, Big Data, Analytics, Mobile, API, Blockchain and Cognitive solutions such as IBM Watson.
What’s the biggest challenge in health care that you’d like to tackle?
There is a gap in the use of technology within the healthcare sector compared with other sectors of our economy. We need to leverage today’s leading-edge technologies to free up the time and enhance the skills of our researchers, clinicians and care practitioners to actually carry out the functions that matter the most. We need to apply systems and technology to execute the tasks that are more repetitive, data-centric and automatic, freeing up valuable clinician resources. We must also better manage data generated from our investments in technology, enabling our clinicians, researchers and health planners to harvest the more accurate insights, leading to new evidence or treatments. The net effect is to stop those tasks or decision processes that would otherwise have taken time (and money) away from the absolutely critical things that save lives.
What is the most rewarding part of the work that you do?
It’s difficult to pinpoint the single most rewarding aspect of the job. There’s so many dimensions to the positive influence we are having on addressing the sustainability of healthcare today. I have had a number of opportunities thus far through some of our IBM Design Thinking workshops to hear patient experiences, to have access to clinical thought leaders, and to see the current state of healthcare delivery. If anything, I feel a great sense of responsibility being entrusted to assist in the transformation and improvement of our healthcare system. I think overall there’s a general satisfaction in knowing that the solutions HHS and IBM are creating together are making a difference in people’s lives (patients, clinicians and staff) and improving healthcare outcomes.
“Innovators are fully committed to a different approach to solving problems and a vision of a better future…”
Where do you look for inspiration to help fuel your ideas and energy at work?
Inspiration can come from anywhere. I think the key to innovation is having an open mind and being receptive to new ideas and ways of doing things. It’s important to look at how other industries have addressed similar challenges and see how they might be applicable to healthcare. There are no restraints as to where we can draw from in order to turn an idea into a reality.
What’s the one thing you think that great innovators do differently?
Innovators are dreamers. I think that innovators are fully committed to a different approach to solving problems and a vision of a better future when others around them are saying things like “That’s not the way it’s done around here” or “That’ll never work”. Innovators have a can-do attitude. As the wise Jedi Master Yoda once declared, “Do or do not. There is no try”.