Health IT

Former Penn Medicine CTO Brian Wells joins cybersecurity vendor Merlin International (Q&A)

Last month, Brian Wells, who previously held various positions at Penn Medicine, took on a new role at Merlin International. In a recent interview, he discussed his new gig.

Brian Wells served in a plethora of positions at Penn Medicine. He joined in 2007 as chief technology officer, then became associate CIO of health technology and research computing. Most recently, he served as Penn Medicine’s associate VP of health technology and academic computing.

But now Wells has taken his talents elsewhere: Merlin International, where he serves as director of healthcare strategy.

The company provides IT solutions to the federal government and is also working to provide solutions to the commercial healthcare market. Merlin’s primary offerings include cybersecurity tools, network performance management solutions and enterprise applications.

In a recent phone interview, Wells discussed his new position at Merlin, which he started in June.

This exchange has been lightly edited.

What led you to pursue this new gig at Merlin International?

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The way I ended up at Merlin was somewhat just by chance. A gentleman I would work with at Merlin talked to me about their plans. It seemed very attractive to me and like a hard thing to pass up. It’s fun to go back to the vendor side.

What’s different about your current role compared to your role at Penn Medicine?

One of the things I was working on at Penn towards the end was patient-focused tech on a handheld device. I was starting to see the beginnings of a lot of interest in this technology. That was an area that Merlin was gong to be moving into.

This is an area I think we’re going to be developing very significantly. It’s about being able to provide tech that brings it all together and puts the patient at the center.

In your role, how will you leverage your experience to help Merlin work with the government and the commercial healthcare sector?

My focus is supposed to be 100 percent on the commercial side. I’m sure I will feed into the federal side, and I’m excited to learn about federal healthcare.

What I did at Penn will help a lot. I have experience on the payer side of healthcare, so I know where they’re headed and what their motivations are. I have a lot of experience on what the employer’s perspective is. How do you integrate it all?

My job here is to help with device strategy, position technology and put together a set of solutions that Merlin can take to the market.

You have a dense background in precision medicine. How does that tie into your new role?

We were actually talking the other day about the role genetics can play. I worked extensively with genetic data at Penn. I understand the data and tech needed to make that happen. I think there is a niche for that in the space. We may be able to bring technology to the patient to help them manage their care in a precise way. It’s about bringing the patient to the center. If you can bring in their genetic data as well, you can make sure they’re aware of what conditions they may be predisposed to have in the future.

What are you most looking forward to with this new position?

The thing that gets me the most excited is the flexibility and speed at which Merlin can make decisions. It’s been exciting to sit in a room with people and come up with ideas, then pursue those ideas. I haven’t had that quick, responsive environment since I had my own company.

Photo: chombosan, Getty Images