by Courtney Ryan
May 1, 2019

When Healthgrades updates its product, it’s an all-hands-on-deck endeavor. The company’s latest effort — overhauling its customer relationship management platform, or CRM — is no different.

The all-knowing source for information on healthcare providers has grown into a workplace of collaboration, and their development team is crucial to their success. We spoke with a few members of the team to get a sense of how the various teams work together to accomplish goals and what steps leadership takes to fuel and maintain passion among engineers.

 

healthgrades offices
photography by Haley Samuelson
healthgrades offices
photography by Haley Samuelson
Healthgrades entrance and logo
photography by Haley Samuelson

 

FOUNDED: 1998

EMPLOYEES: 818, 250 locally

WHAT THEY DO: Healthgrades helps millions of consumers a month connect with their provider of choice, as well as provide solutions and analytics applications for over 1,500 hospitals across the country. As a result of the work of the Healthgrades team, hospitals are able to build relationships with new patients and improve patient access.

WHERE THEY DO IT: Denver, with offices in Atlanta, Birmingham, Raleigh and Madison.

NOTABLE PERKS: A learning and development program, a paid volunteer day and, of course, inclusive healthcare and wellness plans.

 

The team at Healthgrades, collaborating in the office

beata puncevic

 

Beata Puncevic, Senior Vice President, Data Engineering

Beata leads several teams, including the enterprise data platform that powers all applications, DevOps, infrastructure, end-user technology and product analytics.

BEYOND WORK: Beata spends a lot of time hiking with her 10-month-old Aussie puppy, Boomer.

 

You head up the data engineering team. How would you describe your leadership style?

I think my role is to hire the right people, point them in the right direction and mostly get myself and other obstacles out of the way. In other words, I think leadership is about empowering people and creating a runway for them to excel.

I focus on setting high expectations for everything because when you do that, people will often surprise you. Two years ago, our data engineering teams were primarily database developers with SQL and Microsoft stack skills. Today, squads consist of versatile engineers with a combination of Python, Scala, Node.js, ElasticSearch, Redis, AWS, Kubernetes and Docker skills. I believe my team should know everything that I know, understand the rationale for each decision, and be keenly aware of all pros and cons.

 

What’s your tech stack comprised of for the CRM and data platform?

We run on AWS infrastructure. Most of the things we run and deploy ourselves are deployed in containers, and we leverage Kubernetes. The code base is primarily Python, Node.js and AngularJS, and we use Snowflake, ElasticSearch, Redis and Kafka. Our intention was to build a streaming, event-driven enterprise data platform that allows us to scale and flex with the needs of our products. The architectural patterns and technologies we chose were influenced by the type of use cases we want to enable and, probably to some extent, our biases. We adjust constantly as we learn more.
 

A favorite [Healthgrades] principal is that we set the bar for what quality looks like and raise it continuously [...] improvement is our religion.”


When it comes to building culture, what is your philosophy?

We take culture pretty seriously and took the time to explicitly define the principles that guide our hiring, expectations and feedback. For me, a favorite principle is that we set the bar for what quality looks like and raise it continuously. Another is humility: We honestly self-reflect and learn from each experience. Continuous improvement is our religion.

 

healthgrades team

bryan cooper, healthgrades

 

Bryan Cooper, CRM Product Manager

Bryan translates customer and business problems into engineered solutions his team can build.

BEYOND WORK: Bryan’s favorite hobby is pyrography, aka woodburning art. He says it’s a great creative outlet that helps him take nebulous ideas and translate them into something tangible.

 

Tell us more about the products you’re working on. How are they making a difference within the healthcare space?

I’m working on the Healthgrades CRM, which is a new B2B product that serves health systems. What excites me most about this is that it is a greenfield project we’ve built from the ground up. Over the last year and a half, my team and I were able to bring it from a demo prototype to the largest healthcare CRM on the market. 

Health systems are like any other business in that they need to market their services to find customers. In their case, their customer is a patient with real healthcare needs. Healthgrades' CRM does the heavy-lifting for market research and campaign management, allowing health systems to focus on what they do best: treat patients. The CRM product I am building with my team taps into Healthgrades deep knowledge of healthcare marketing and data science to provide the right research and marketing, ultimately helping connect people with the care they need.

 

I strive to give my team the autonomy they need to stretch their limits and take full ownership of their work.”


How do you empower employees to help build company culture?

I trust my people. As a product manager, I don’t create mockups and designs or write code anymore, but I have an amazing team that I can trust to bring far deeper expertise in those areas than I ever had. We all have a common goal to deliver a world-class product, and with the right vision and understanding of our users’ problems, my team brings all the right skill sets and expertise to deliver on that goal.

I strive to give my team the autonomy they need to stretch their limits and take full ownership of their work while providing the support and guidance they need from a priority and real-life use case perspective.

 

healthgrades team at work

Ashwin Rao, Lead Software Engineer

 

Ashwin Rao, Lead Software Engineer

Ashwin has spent the last two years building the Healthgrades CRM product from the ground up. He also coordinates needs for the team based out of India.

BEYOND WORK: Ashwin maintains a couple of classic bikes, which he says have a mind of their own. “I think the bikes give me the patience and observation skills to get the best out of each project I work on,” Ashwin says.

 

What is the breakdown of a developer’s day?

Our day begins with a daily team stand-up where we talk through goals for the day and prioritize tasks and work allocation. All team members get to work across the product layers. So, a typical day could have one building new UI components in Angular or integrating a marketing tool or building complex NoSQL queries to serve our rich visuals. We conduct regular design discussions and code reviews, which are open to participation.

 

What are your goals for the team, company or products? 

We are building a product that connects patients to care, so it is imperative for the team to care for the product itself. Together, our goal is to understand the problem we are solving, take ownership of features and be aware of new technologies to improve our offerings. 

Our product introduces three different types of challenges regularly. Some of them have to do with improving our user experience — no wonder we named one of our teams 'Pixel Perfect' — some with integrating marketing tools, while others require deciphering data patterns. 

 

Does your team have a say in the products, features and design developed by Healthgrades?

Absolutely. Our product owners run feature refinement meetings in which they present business requirements, and these meetings present opportunities for leads to understand the whys and whats. The leads then have the opportunity to evaluate the technical feasibility and come back with suggestions to tweak the requirements. We set aside 15 percent of our backlog for technical exploration and enhancement work. This has led to innovative ideas getting absorbed into the product.
 

[...] the general sense is that our initial preparation has paid off, and we feel more confident about getting things done right.”


What was a moment your team acted in a way that reflected Healthgrades’ culture?

The CRM release has brought out some pretty interesting problems. We have had to quickly learn new tools like SalesForce Marketing Cloud, integrate new content management systems — which didn’t play nice with our tracking scripts — and tackle marketing use case catering to minors. We loaded up our initial sprints with technical spikes and discovery stories, formulated multiple options working closely with all stakeholders, and reset expectations where necessary.

As we approach our release at the end of this quarter, the general sense is that our initial preparation has paid off, and we feel more confident about getting things done right.

 

healthgrades offices

andy punch, healthgrades

 

Andy Puch, Lead Software Engineer

Andy manages the enterprise data platform AWS infrastructure.

BEYOND WORK: Even in his spare time, Andy enjoys programming, working on apps, speaking at meetups and exploring new technologies for personal growth.

 

What makes the products you’re building innovative? How are they impacting the healthcare industry?

We are building infrastructure that enables our enterprise data platform to stream large quantities of data through our network and automatically scale as more demand is needed, allowing us to better adapt to our customer and client’s needs. As a software engineer, I’m always excited when there are large, complex problems to solve. It allows me to work with new technologies for each unique situation.

The products we build are innovative because they're using the latest technology to solve large complex healthcare problems that affect almost everyone. We are impacting the healthcare industry each time we push the envelope on innovation. We’ve been able to prove that being containerized and cloud-native is the new standard — you no longer have to run workloads in physical data centers to be compliant or effective.

 

As a software engineer, what do you find most meaningful about the products that you’re building at Healthgrades?

As a software engineer, I love being able to collaborate with other engineers, including the CRM team, to work on unique data problems that I’ve never been able to do outside of Healthgrades. Whether it’s the volume, processing speed or sensitivity of the data, it’s rewarding to be able to put all the pieces together and continue to fine-tune our products and make a difference in the healthcare space.

 

It is so rewarding to have other teams ask us for best practices and guidance when deploying new code because it means we are the masters of our domain ...”


How does your team cross-collaborate with other teams?

One thing I love about my team is the amount of communication we get to have with other teams. Since we are the ones maintaining the stability of our Kubernetes cluster, we get to interface with everyone from developers to security to management to finance. It is so rewarding to have other teams ask us for best practices and guidance when deploying new code because it means we are the masters of our domain, and they are equally interested in producing a quality product.

 

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