Interview with Dr Mark Allen – Progress

Q1:  SD: Please introduce yourself

My name is Dr. Mark Allen and I’m the Chief Technology Officer, Decision Management at Progress, and a former practicing physician.

Q2: Where do you live?

I live in Menlo Park, California, which is in the San Francisco Bay area.

Q3: What is your role at Progress?

As one of the inventors of the Progress® Corticon® Business Rules Management System (a decision rules engine), I continue to be very involved in the product. Now, I serve as its chief evangelist and product strategist, working to define business strategy and points for product integration, while also helping to market and sell Corticon around the world.

Q4: Tell us about your company’s solutions.

Progress has solutions for software developers of all types. This includes core programmers, as well as business people that don’t necessarily have programming experience, but still have ideas about business processes they can positively automate. We provide a range of products that help to build software applications, spanning programming or “control platforms,” all the way to productivity platforms, where you can generate applications out of business models without the need to code. From on-premise applications, to those in the cloud, mobile, web and fat client applications—whatever people want to build, we provide the technology to do so.

Q5: How can technology help make the NHS more efficient?

New tests, procedures and therapies seemingly launch daily, all designed to lengthen and improve people’s lives. While fantastic, this creates significant quality pressure on the system as physicians may not be aware of the latest best practices. Similarly, there is significant cost pressure as many tests and treatments are ordered when not medically necessary. Because doctors don’t have the time to keep on top of the latest advances to thoroughly understand each, we need to leverage technology to help doctors make better and more cost effective choices during clinical care. By leveraging technology, we can capture and automate best practices which can both provide direct, self-service advice to patients who can take a larger role in managing their own heath, and offer valuable information to help doctors use medical advances in appropriate ways and at the appropriate times—and only when medically necessary. Decision rule engines are critical tools already delivering these types of efficiencies in medical settings, helping doctors make better decisions faster.

Q6: What opportunity does technology adoption present for the healthcare system?

The opportunities are numerous. We can be far more efficient while taking costs out of the system and adding productivity. In the systems that I’ve built, we have shown that giving doctors guidance at the point of care made them twice as fast in the encounter. That kind of efficiency is remarkable. Also, there are a lot of questions that can be answered without a doctor. If we could help patients understand when they do and don’t need a doctor, that would likewise remove a lot of costs from the system; technology can be a crucial tool in this. The right system can also help improve the quality of care, ensuring doctor’s make more informed decisions that, again, leverage the latest best practices. It can also help improve customer service, by matching patients with medical staff qualified to handle their case. Not every patient needs a highly-experienced physician. Often, a junior doctor or nurse is sufficient, so an experience triage could reduce wait times and facilitate care.

Q7: What challenges lie ahead for the healthcare system as it integrates modern technologies?

Potential challenges fall into a few categories, one of which is behavior modification for health care providers. Consumers desire self-service, on-demand experiences and have already adopted them in many facets of their life—leveraging smart phone and internet technologies. Doctors, however, rely on their training and life experience to govern care, and it is often difficult to get them to use clinical decision support software. They think they know the answer and find the tool unnecessary. Educating about the benefits will be important, and we do see higher adoption among the younger generation of medical professionals. Beyond health care provider behavior, there are regulatory considerations, as well as data access and data ownership issues. Finally there are quality considerations, as referential rule integrity must be maintained to ensure the logic rules make sense and deliver proper guidance.

Q8: How can today’s providers cope with the volume of data and decisions needed to positively impact patient health?

Well, they can give-up sleep, study all the time and never forget anything they learn, or they can use technology. The accumulation of new clinical knowledge in the last ten years rivals that from the previous 100. We’ve reached a critical mass where technology must be used to help providers digest the overwhelming volume of data and foster better clinical decision making. Automated decision making technology like Corticon can help improve the entire patient experience by helping doctors make the right decision at the right time based upon the unique characteristics of each patient. Doctors can order fewer tests, confident in their resulting decision because it’s based on the latest best practices.

You can join Dr Mark Allen on our webinar on 30th April at 14.30 GMT

Register here


Nic McCoy

Co-Founder and Director of Talent Solutions

Nick is an experienced sales, marketing and recruitment professional with the last 12 yrs+ spent working with Medical technology companies and digital health innovators.

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