By Rania Nasrallah-Massaad
Alexander joined the PhD in Management program at Telfer in 2016, after receiving a master’s in systems science from uOttawa. He is working with Drs. Pavel Andreev and Lysanne Lessard in the Health Systems program. We interviewed him to learn more about his research interests in information systems and business analytics.
Why did you choose to study health systems? Any personal motivation behind your interest?
I chose to pursue a PhD in management and, specifically, management information systems because of its applicability and relevance in our everyday lives. Technologies continue to shape how we behave and it’s important to understand how these systems can be designed to support us to achieve behaviours that we desire.
What is your research about and what will it contribute to academic literature?
My research looks at how information systems can be designed to help users change existing behaviours and form new habits. To this effect, I’m developing a theory to explain and predict how information systems-supported habits are achieved. Based on this theory, I will derive actionable insights that systems designers and developers can use to create more effective solutions for users in various contexts.
You recently presented your research at the Hawaii International Conference on System Sciences. What are some highlights from it?
In this work, I derived actionable insights that can be used to build systems that help people break established habits and adhere to preventive behaviours (e.g., social distancing, hand washing) during pandemics. We demonstrated how the insights can be applied using an illustrative case of a student returning to school. Such a system would support her as she navigates the new policies and practices laid out to ensure a safe return to campus.
How can your thesis research improve the lives of Canadians?
The actionable insights derived from my thesis can impact how information systems are designed to better serve Canadians. The insights provide guidance for practitioners in both government and private industries to develop systems that can effectively support practices, such as the self-management of chronic diseases or the upkeep of personal health and hygiene for Canadians.