Building Healthcare’s New Infrastructure
Written by Collective Health
From left to right: Shivika Jindal (Site Reliability Engineer), Diana Arrieta (Site Reliability Engineer), and Helen Cai (Product Analyst)
Driven by our mission to make it easier to understand, navigate, and pay for healthcare, Collective Health is evolving the way health benefits work. In order to make this mission possible, many teams are hard at work behind the scenes. We talked with Shivika, Diana, and Helen from Collective Health’s Site Reliability Engineering (SRE) and Data Science teams to hear their perspectives on SRE in the healthcare field, career development, and more.
What is the importance of reliability in healthcare?
[Shivika] On the SRE team, we work to build a robust, reliable, and automated healthcare infrastructure. Whether we’re doing a quick adoption for migration to Kubernetes, monitoring Grafana dashboards for the system metrics, or alerting based on Prometheus rules, the team does incredible work.
Coming from a data center (non-cloud) type of infrastructure was challenging. Since Collective Health specializes in providing seamless healthcare experiences by implementing up-to-date, fast, monitorable, and reliable technologies over the cloud, the first few initial months were deeply invested in understanding the infrastructure of the industry. Hearing about people’s life-changing experiences with healthcare was definitely motivating — I was ready to tackle these problems.
Still, being a woman without much of a computer science background did make me nervous in the beginning. But my teammate said, “Leadership does not create followers, it creates other leaders.” The male counterparts have been very supportive of their female counterparts, too. From encouragement to join technical conferences to spending hours whiteboarding for explanations or discussions, the learning curve was exacting yet supportive. Unlike a lot of workplaces, I am equally heard by my manager and team leads, and that keeps me motivated and gives me a reason to perform better than yesterday.
How is the member experience empowered by reliable infrastructure?
[Helen] Building out a team to better understand the efforts of our products and incorporate tangible results into our decision making is no easy task. The data science/business intelligence (BI) team started with this goal in mind and is a downstream consumer of the SRE and greater data science team’s work.
One example of this collaboration is the Collective Health member interface. To make our web and mobile products useful for detailing plans, finding providers, and managing claims, there was a lot of cross-team collaboration across many components: SRE enabled our data analysis environment, data science engineering, BI, and analytics worked together to model and define the schemas, and product researched and implemented tools and technologies to measure the effectiveness of our platform. This cross-functional work has allowed us to better understand members’ needs and help us support their own navigation through the complexities of healthcare.
How does this affect a member’s healthcare journey?
[Helen] The goal of updating our tools is to ultimately help Collective Health members. Clean data leads to stronger feature development to enable members to have an easy, simple experience, find doctors or specialists, and allow us to support and guide members through their healthcare journeys. For example, our platform can recommend relevant health benefits or services for members via a proprietary recommendation engine called Cortex. A member then easily can use Collective Health’s app or online interface to find a doctor, set up an appointment, and submit a claim.
Extracting meaningful data from a variety of complex data sources enables Collective Health members to receive personalized recommendations for benefits and care when it is needed. Instead of looking up common healthcare terminology or questions, members can refer to our digital tools. Instead of mailing in their claims, members can upload them digitally. Instead of searching on their own, members can access recommendations for benefits and care on the Collective Health platform.
What makes Collective Health special?
[Shivika] Like many job candidates, I find interviews SCARY. Sleepless nights and self-doubt about not performing well or eventually being a less-preferred candidate would take over my mind while I was job hunting.
However, Collective Health’s interview style was quite distinct. My interview felt like more of a friendly technical conversation than an interrogation. It started off with an explanation of the company’s mission and progressed to discussing the reliable yet innovative design of a production architecture. The discussion gave me a lot of confidence in the team and the workplace — I knew if I were to be selected, I would have plenty of opportunities for growth.
[Diana] Everyone I met throughout the interview process was friendly and down to earth — a breath of fresh air after endless rounds of phone screens and whiteboarding for a job in IT engineering as a former Googler. It was more of a conversation than an interview where they wanted to get to know more about what I loved. I honestly got excited during the interview — I ended up telling them about virtually everything I had coded and automated at my previous job!
What does Collective Health do to encourage internal mobility and growth?
[Diana] In two years, I had coded and automated everything I could get my hands on from onboarding scripts to a phone auto dialer, all while mentoring junior IT Engineers. A new manager on the SRE team had taken notice of my ability to assist their team with technical tasks. So, after discussing career goals with my manager, I was given the chance to do a rotation with SRE for a month to see how I liked the work and test out my skills on a small project. Needless to say, my new manager decided to keep me on the SRE team.
It’s been over a year now, and I can already see how far I’ve come in both technical knowledge and influence. I’m looking forward to how much I’ll keep growing with my team and the company.
The engineering teams at Collective Health are leveraging modern technology to rebuild healthcare’s infrastructure from the ground up, delivering secure and reliable products. Our members trust us with their health, and we take that seriously — on our engineering team, that translates to a core value of approaching our work and building solutions with empathy. Whether that’s for candidates during the interview process, for each other as colleagues, or for our members and what they might be going through when they use our web or mobile applications, it’s ingrained in everything we do. If you’re interested in joining us in creating a better healthcare future, visit our jobs page at collectivehealth.com/careers.