When I sat down with Jeff Sponaugle to talk about his role as Chief Technology Officer at Surescripts, one thing was clear: he’s fueled by curiosity. A true engineer, Jeff is all about learning how things work, why people do what they do and finding a better way to… <<insert just about anything <here>>.
All of our solutions rest on the power of the Surescripts network, built to maintain industry-leading reliability, security and scalability. Jeff’s team builds out our network infrastructure that includes the technologies, standards and practices that make it possible to securely deliver actionable intelligence across the nation at great scale and speed.
It’s 2030. What are you most proud of having helped accomplish in healthcare?
Our business sits at the intersection of healthcare and technology. How can we deliver the information that care providers need to take the best care of their patients? At the end of the day, that’s what matters. A great network that doesn’t help to deliver better patient outcomes isn’t all that great. But the technology we build, when deployed and leveraged, makes better care possible.
When you sit down to lunch or have a coffee with colleagues who are working on technology, what topics, trends or advances are you talking about lately?
We’re preparing for a massive increase in available data. In order to handle it and make something meaningful out of it, we’ll need to make significant leaps in our artificial intelligence (AI). As AI become more sophisticated, it will be able to make sense of these massive data sets, and we’ll be able to drive better health outcomes.
How would you talk about healthcare technology at a cocktail party?
Technology makes it possible to make smart assumptions and observations faster than any human ever could. In other words, technology can help humans—doctors, pharmacists and so forth—think and do better.
Not counting colleagues at Surescripts, who do you consider influencers, innovators or leaders in the field of technology?
In the field of technology, Elon Musk. He’s constantly pushing further than anyone else. He put a car in space! On a personal level it would have to be, Richard Feynman, one of the key contributors to the field of quantum mechanics. He excelled at distilling down the complexity of the physical world, of the universe itself, to make it understandable. His philosophy encourages us to always remember the purpose behind what you’re trying to solve for. At Surescripts and in healthcare overall, we’re trying to save lives. Everything we do MUST be about that.
Who or what inspires you?
Like most engineers, I’m driven by curiosity. I’m a huge fan of understanding how things work before trying to fix them. I love technology, but I find it particularly rewarding to work with technology that is focused on improving people’s lives through more informed and higher quality care.
In addition to building our network infrastructure, Jeff’s also building a new house that he designed with, “lots of cool, high-tech stuff,” and is chronicling the project on social media. Features include music that follows you as you move from room to room and a long driveway with reactive lights that are sequentially triggered by the car’s passage.
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