Don Woodlock is the Vice President of InterSystems Corporation’s HealthShare business unit. Coming with an impressive academic background in Electrical Engineering from the globally renowned Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Don brings in years of experience of the healthcare industry and is currently responsible for InterSystems HealthShare business including strategy, product development, commercialization, implementation, and overall customer success in its segment. He has also previously served numerous authoritative positions at GE Healthcare and IDX Systems Corporation to name a few.
Mirror Review has a tete-a-tete with the multi-talented VP of InterSystems, Don Woodlock. During our candid chat, we asked Don about his personal journey, choice of career in healthcare industry, roles and responsibility for HealthShare and so much more.
According to you, what is the present day scenario of the healthcare industry?
Today, we have the Electronic Medical Records (EMR) in each hospitals and clinics around most parts of the world. The main problem is that the data is not truly connected in any of the systems. Moreover, we have silos of medical records that exist in hundreds and thousands of locations but have remained untied together and frankly, not useful to patients. Owing to this, we have taken the initial step forward but numerous steps are needed to improve the healthcare industry.
Mirror Review would love to know about your personal journey. What basically attracted you towards the healthcare industry?
I have always been a part of the healthcare industry since my first job. Initially, when I started my career as a software engineer, I didn’t really care what industry I joined and in the hindsight that was a mistake because I think that the industry you work in is a big part of your challenge and excitement from a career point of view. Therefore, I was extremely lucky to have found my calling in the healthcare from the start.
To begin with, one of the most fascinating and rewarding things about healthcare is that it has a social good aspect to it, where you are helping people to stay healthy, cure diseases and in turn, become a part of the system that is doing good for the society. Secondly, the modern healthcare is a very hi-tech industry with new technologies, fresh approaches, and latest softwares. It’s an industry that is very open to technology and approaches, making it exciting. And lastly, healthcare is also a very complex industry, possessing numerous challenges and complexities. From a business point-of-view, connecting the different parts together of the missing puzzle is extremely beneficial when it comes to software because we always have things to do and problems to solve.
I have actually been an active and contributing member of the healthcare fraternity throughout my career and I intend to make it stay that way because I enjoy it very much.
As the VP of an esteemed group, with vast years of experiences, what role do you play in its operations and overall growth?
As you know, I work for InterSystems and lead the HealthShare Business Unit which is basically a connected suite of healthcare information solutions and, in essence, an EMR interoperability platform. Essentially, what we are doing is helping out customers to solve the problem of connecting all the different medical records that a patient has and allowing that information to follow seamlessly and aggregate which can, in turn, can be used by physicians or analysed and utilized for trends or machine learning. And that is what a HealthShare product line is all about. This is actually the next foundational step we need in healthcare. Summarizing the entire process, step one is digitizing the paper records and step 2 is connecting all the electronic records together so that you as a patient or you as a physician or a Government Minister of Health can really get a handle on care of a patient or care of an individual.
In what areas does InterSystems stand apart from its current competitors?
We have three business units at InterSystems; we have InterSystems IRIS Data Platform, InterSystems TrakCare and then we have our HealthShare business. Today, we have accumulated supported the medical records of 500 million patients around the world and our strength is really about scalability and reliability of that information because there is nothing more important than your health and medical records. At InterSystems, we have specialized in supporting large organizations by scaling up their systems safely and securely as well as making the patient records and information available. In all, we are the principle engine running behind a lot of major vendors of EMR and that has been our company’s speciality in the marketplace.
Would you like to share any additional information about InterSystems latest product launch?
Absolutely! In the coming weeks, we have a really new and interesting product launch called InterSystems IRIS for Health. As I mentioned earlier, our core work has been centred on this platform where our customers built medical records and other healthcare applications on top of it. Soon, we are introducing the next generation of this platform.
The InterSystems IRIS for Health platform really combines the historically important operational application that stores, shows information, runs fast and is also responsive with the analytical operations. With the availability of Big Data, Machine Learning and AI, the data analysis and finding patterns become equally important. Also, one of the trends that we noticed is the separation of technologies that make operational databases from the ones that we do, which are the analytical platforms.
In IRIS for Health platform, we combine these technologies, using a hybrid approach that is good and stream-lined in deriving operational and analytical patterns both on the same platform. It also provides real-time analytics so a lot of customers can perform analytics. Additionally, you have the multi-modal use of data as soon as it goes live, thereby helping in analysing patients in the ED or in the operating room. One can actually conduct analysis while the patients are still there in real time as well as bringing analytics to action. We are really excited about our latest platform and I really think that it will help on a grand scale.
On a personal note, who are your sources of inspiration? Whom do you dedicate your success to?
I think I have learnt on becoming a business leader from some of my previous mentors over the years. Focusing on two individuals, Paul Egerman (former COO and Founder of IDX Systems Corporation) and Phillip “Terry” Ragon (CEO and Founder of InterSystems), who also happen to be the Co-founders of IDX Systems Corporation. Both of them have been a huge inspiration for me as well as a source of true noise from the cultural point of view. Paul & Terry have always focused on customers as the primary and utmost priority of their business. On the other hand, a lot of other people whom I have worked with focused on financial success or profits or predictability in short-term and other kinds of metrics that are useful but rather secondary. It is the most important thing that I have learned from them about focusing on customers and making sure that they are successful. This valuable lesson has immensely helped me throughout my business endeavours and till today, that remains my golden rule.
Could you please share your personal quote with us? According to you, what are the key ingredients to success?
“Customers’ success is your success,” is the quote that I stand by. The problem in business or any large organization is that there are so many metrics and distractions that define keys to success whether it is strategy or execution, people, details or operating rhythms. If we visit a library for books on management, everyone has a different opinion about the key to success. However, I feel that the real keys to success are focus on customers and putting the best team on the field. Ultimately, the best way to win in business and with customers is to put together a great team for executing tasks besides motivating them to do a good job. And if you just have these two pillars, they would definitely drive you towards success.
Last question, our readers would love to know about your experience while studying in one of the most renowned institutes of the world, MIT?
Sure! I loved studying in MIT and currently, I am sitting next to it. InterSystems is fairly integrated in MIT and we also recruit a lot of students from it, subsequently enjoying and participating in its culture. Recently, we sponsored the MIT Grand Hack which was a weekend Hackathon and in future, we wish to remain integrated with the prestigious institute.
Coming back to me, I went to MIT 30 years ago and had a really wonderful time partaking in its rich academic elements. Being a lifelong learner and a curious person, I found my time at MIT quite invigorating. One needs to work hard and pay attention otherwise if you are a curious soul and pretty good with math, one could easily succeed there. In terms of personal rewarding aspects, I was and still am a rock musician and had a band at MIT. During those days, we played music at all the dorms, fraternity and sorority parties around town. Additionally, I also found a connection between the math-oriented people and musicians, creating a harmonious balance of science and art that was really stimulating and a lot of fun.