Alex Merwin is a technologist with over ten years’ experience building and scaling high-performance teams at startups and global tech companies. He is passionate about helping healthcare innovators apply digital technologies to make the industry more customer-centric, effective and cost efficient. He is an Amazon Web Services Certified Cloud practitioner and holds a Bachelors in Marketing with an International Business Certificate from the University of Colorado Boulder. He also attended executive development courses at INSEAD in Fontainebleau, France.
Also Check out Alex’s website.
- Tell us a bit more about yourself, your background and what you’re doing now.
I am originally from Colorado in the US and have always been a technophile. My grandmother worked at Apple from 1982 to 2012 – I think she was the only octogenarian at the company when she retired. Thanks to her we always had Macs in the house. She fed my passion for technology by sending software and how-to books which I voraciously consumed. I developed my first website when I was twelve then launched an eCommerce business at 14 and never turned back. I continued to do website development and digital advisory work through my mid-twenties. I work in the advertising technology industry with ten years’ experience in a range of businesses from start-ups to the world’s largest tech companies. Digital technology transformed marketing in a decade. It started as a buzzword and became the primary way to reach customers. Now that’s happening in healthcare. LearnDigital.Health is a blog to equip healthcare innovators to make the most of the opportunity. I write about the management methodologies, strategic frameworks and technologies I’ve personally used to apply digital technologies to build customer-centric businesses.
- How did you get involved with digital health?
My family again blazed my path into healthcare. My father is a retired oncological pathologist. My grandfather was a retired dermatologist. Both were Air Force MDs. When speaking about the Vietnam War, instead of shellshock my grandfather would light up, exclaiming that “…those were amazing years to practice dermatology!”. He loved giving comfort to GIs and I think he geeked out treating the myriad conditions that resulted from the extreme environment. My mother is a Registered Nurse turned entrepreneur who developed nutritional supplements and dermatology products during her career. After years of seeing how technology changed the advertising sector I wanted to apply my skills in an industry with more direct social impact. Healthcare was a natural fit.
- Tell us about where you come from and some of the health and technology innovation that’s happening there.
I think the most exciting innovations in the US tackle the runaway costs of healthcare instead of introducing new services. We have to get costs under control. Otherwise, they will crater the economy as we bring more lives into the US health system. While it doesn’t address covering the uninsured, I recommend reading The Company that Solved Healthcare by John Torinus Jr.. The author is CEO of Serigraph, a US manufacturing business who realized (correctly) that healthcare costs could bankrupt his business. Serigraph rolled out a series of innovative management practices that enabled them to limit 2003 to 2010 cost inflation to 2.8% compared to a 7% national average. I think it’s a framework that many other businesses could adopt to make the US a more valuable health system. London is my home and I am a big fan of the NHS. 111, the non-life threatening NHS care line, probably doesn’t seem innovative to the Digital Health Today British audience, but those outside the UK may not realise that anyone can call and get medical advice to see if they need to go to the emergency room (A&E). While some private insurers in the US provide these services, a public service like this would dramatically reduce unnecessary emergency admissions in the US. I also doubt all Americans with access to similar services are aware they exist or remember the numbers when the need them. I think the work the NHS Innovation Accelerator (NIA) is amazing, providing an onramp for startups to engage the worlds’ largest single-payer healthcare system. Since it launched in July 2015, the program has supported the implementation of 37 evidence-based healthcare innovations across more than 1,700 NHS sites.
- What are some of your top interests and what should people contact you about?
If you are a healthcare expert but digital novice I would be thrilled to meet you. I am passionate about the LearnDigital.Health blog having a meaningful impact and I want to learn about the pain points you encounter as a patient, payer, provider or vendor. For fun I love traveling, photography (film and digital), brewing beer and playing board games.
- Anything else you’d like to share?
Thank you for the opportunity to volunteer as a Digital Health Today Ambassador. I look forward to doing everything I can support this growing community. We have a lot of work to do, so let’s get to it!