Part 2 – Technical Challenges & Opportunities
The transition from software engineer to a leadership role doesn’t happen overnight. Managing projects, coaching, and clearing roadblocks for team members require different skills than writing beautiful code. But for some people, leadership is a calling. Wade Chambers is one of those people.
A legend in the Bay Area tech community, Wade has held just about every job title from software developer to his current role as our Chief Technology Officer. Co-workers describe him as thoughtful, personable, thorough, and focused on the greater good. Profoundly shaped by early experiences and mentors including tech entrepreneur Ben Horowitz, as well as national leaders in Washington, DC, Wade leads with purpose. This two part blog series offers a glimpse into the engineering principles that drive him and his team.
For more information on Wade’s leadership philosophy and approach, check out part one here.
What technical challenges are you and your team working on right now and how do you see them impacting the world?
Data is messy. It comes from so many different systems in many formats. We stitch it all together to make sense of what’s going on, and make good use of it. We ask: Where can I spot a healthcare situation that is going in a bad direction for our members? Once I see that, how do I identify who would be the best clinicians or resources for them in their location? How do I get them better care? Data unlocks all that.
A key part of creating a platform that works at scale is creating experiences that empower members. To do this, we unearth or predict what they need by processing billions of data points connected with their history, needs, and preferences. We build a system that’s innately working for you, not something you have to go figure out.
Our work here affects more than experiences of course. It affects cost. A meaningful part of healthcare cost is administrative overhead. Automate that, let computers do what computers do, and you can reduce cost. You’ll have a system that people enjoy, that also gives physicians an ecosystem in which they can practice closer to the top of their licensure.
So what puts our company at the forefront of tech innovation in healthcare?
Our ambition is to do something amazing: to raise the standard of healthcare for everyone. We do that by addressing the whole spectrum of members’ needs, from a cold to COVID-19 to cancer. We help them manage all of their healthcare needs—providing medical care, behavioral health care, administrative support, the right expert to treat them, and connected, longitudinal care—in a single place.
Other health tech companies are attacking meaningful problems, yes. But they’re too-often narrow in their focus. They either target one specific thing or go wide without addressing the seams between aspects of care. We believe stitching these seams together is critical to lowering costs and improving results, while also improving member experience.
We believe the healthcare system can and should be proactive rather than reactive. We can act on our members’ behalf—constantly helping to figure out what they need, when they need it, and building the experience that allows them to manage their health without feeling lost or unprepared. This changes the way everybody can experience and benefit from healthcare, while improving its efficiency and effectiveness.
With that vision in mind, what are the technology problems that you’re most excited to have your team solve in the next few years to make that vision a reality?
There’s a whole area of technical problem-solving around data—making it simple, fast, reliable and understandable—so that the right people can get to the insights. It’s a big challenge to go into different systems of record and extract the data, then normalize it, model it, and connect it in a way that allows analytics and data science professionals to interact effectively with it. Providing the tools that allow data professionals to be able to use that data, to be able to contribute back to it, then collaborate with others is an exciting technical challenge. We’re doing that.
The second problem we’re solving for is scale: we’re creating a platform for delivering different types of care at scale, whether that is virtual primary care or helping somebody deal with COPD or Type 2 Diabetes. We are building a closed loop system so all types of professionals—from a clinician to an administrative team member to somebody who is helping coordinate care—can serve not millions but hundreds of millions of people.
The third innovation area is member experience. There’s exciting technical innovation in the creation, testing, and iteration of new types of experiences that deliver meaningful benefits and value to our members and clients, such as accessing and navigating your healthcare needs with the push of a button on your phone or saving you thousands of dollars through claims advocacy and billing support. Disrupt an industry, and you get to tap into your members’ minds and see what they need and want, and build those magic experiences that are right for them.
In addition to taking on these big challenges, what sets the tech work experience apart at our company compared with other Silicon Valley companies or teams that you’ve led?
We place a premium on critical thinking and decision-making. It’s the opposite of associative thinking, taking what you did in your previous role and applying it to the current problem set without considering whether it’s appropriate or not. Here, we need everyone to think more deeply about every problem, every solution, and how we can deliver something truly different for our members.
We’re also very conscious about the culture we’re building. The people we hire know we put our members’ needs first. That’s who we build for, that’s what drives all of our decision-making. It takes a person with both exceptional smarts and deep-seated passion for our work to succeed here. The people you get to work with are equally humble, purpose-driven, and 100% dedicated.
Candidates are drawn to our company’s higher purpose, but they also want to know if there is money to be made in healthtech. Can you speak to the financial opportunity here?
If a company can’t sustain itself, how can it continue to innovate and improve outcomes for millions of members?
Over a trillion dollars is spent on healthcare benefits annually. Historically, that’s been increasing by 4% to 6% each year. It’s not like anyone’s getting 4% to 6% more productivity; that’s just cost – over $50 billion of incremental cost a year and growing. It’s not sustainable for businesses, government, or people. If you can help solve that issue nationally—even if you’re just addressing a fraction of it—you’re talking about billions of dollars annually.
That’s a huge business opportunity. And here, you can couple that with the opportunity to do good things for the world, to create disruptive innovation that reduces the cost of care while improving the quality of outcomes for millions of people. I love coming to work every day. Our company is a place where you can do the best work of your life, especially as we merge to form a new company building upon the strong foundations of Grand Rounds, Doctor On Demand and Included Health. There’s huge upside potential.
Are you ready to tackle these challenging problems and create the solution that makes healthcare better for everyone? Are you ready to work for a deeply principled and caring leader and join a team that’s aligned around this bold mission? Check out our open roles today. We’re hiring!
About the author
Our Editorial Team is composed of our leaders, clinicians, and care coordinators, as well as other Included Health employees, all who are working to raise the standard of healthcare for everyone. Together, they combine decades of subject matter experience across all fields of healthcare.