athenahealth: Where Technologists Solve Mission-Driven Problems for Creating Better Health Outcomes

Ganesh Kondal, Lead Architect, Smitha Mave, Director - Engineering ,Jessy Kurien, ,Executive Director - Engineering

Ganesh Kondal

Lead Architect

As we are hearing more and more heart-warming stories about the healthcare professionals striving day and night to combat the Covid-19 pandemic, we should be thankful for the technologies that are removing the obstacles in their way. Can a technologist ask for a more impactful work than improving the healthcare outcomes of a hundred million of patients? Catering to 160,000 healthcare providers, athenahealth inc., one of the pioneers in cloud-based electronic health record software & revenue cycle management, gives such an opportunity to its people, where they get to work on technically-challenging, mission-driven problems that have direct, near real-time impact on the care given to the patient who is sitting at the doctor’s office. Realizing this, its people strive for achieving high standards to provide the best patient care and improve clinical and financial results.

A brief glimpse into the company’s product portfolio, two decades of development history, data size it deals with and its technology vision would give one a clear picture about the sophisticated complexity of athenahealth’s work. The company’s twenty years of work has resulted in millions of lines of Perl code (one of the biggest Perl enterprise codebases), hundreds of thousands of scripts, approximately 1,500 developers across eight locations changing a large swatch of its code daily, where billions of highly optimized SQL queries are being run on any given day. “At scale, we are deploying daily changes to that code base and as a highly regulated industry, great attention needs to be paid to privacy and security whilst enabling interoperability,” remarks Ganesh Kondal, Lead Architect, athenahealth.

Team Players
Being one of the very few companies offering a cloud-based solution, athenahealth outclasses competition by providing data-driven insights not only based on an individual doctor or the organization, but also benchmark it against others in the system and offer recommendations. Handling billions of critical transactions per day, its systems play a vital role in reducing administrative costs and creating better healthcare outcomes by providing software and data analytics.

Smitha Mave, Director - Engineering

“At our core, we value being a team player, supporting each other and fostering an environment for open, candid exchange of ideas. We obsess over our customers – their success is our success. Equally important is having a high bar of accountability to our commitments and continuously looking at ways to learn and better ourselves,” asserts Smitha Mave, Director - Engineering, athenahealth.

On any given day, athenahealth handles billions of change datasets being pushed-out to its data lake in the public cloud, out of which it executes ML (Machine Learning) algorithms to classify documents, identify denials, and a lot more. This means that its engineers get to work on a wide range of technologies and tools that are chosen based on the problem they are trying to solve. Rather than being prescriptive and limiting the developers, athenahealth gives a specification and lets the teams adhere to that. Each of the
developers understand the infrastructure they deploy to in the public cloud. This lets a developer understand end-to-end and feel the ownership (i.e. requirements) to coding and deployment. “With this model, as teams bring-in new solutions, we are always evaluating tools or technologies, whether it be Terraform templates,, Trisotech or any of the new HIPAA compliant AWS service,” explains Ganesh. Over the past few years, the company has made concerted efforts to modernize and embrace a more polyglot environment at applicable areas and increasingly deploying its codebase in the public cloud.

Jessy Kurien, Executive Director - Engineering

In each location, the company has a fully stacked team of Product Manager, Architect and the Engineers, all operating in an agile way. Its athenaCollector (flagship revenue cycle management product) team works closely with athenaIntelligence folks in Chennai & Bangalore on various ML opportunities that range from simple document classification to predictive denial management. Likewise, its Pune location leads development for mobile apps for physicians, whereas athenaFlex on-premise/cloud-hosted RCM and clinical workflow offerings are developed out of its ITPL Bangalore site. “athenaNet can handle the volume we have today because of our robust platform services, whose teams are in Chennai and in Bangalore,” adds Ganesh.

Nurturing Structured Growth
athenahealth plans each of the teams with the right balance of experienced, mid-level and fresh talent in 30:40:30 ratio, which plays a significant role in the team’s creativity. The company that fulfils 25 percent of its hiring needs from campus also engages with the colleges for internship and skill development programs. athenahealth is confident that if the fundamentals are strong, technologies and frameworks can be learned. Hence, it deploys a combination of deep technical as well as experiential learning interviews (platform/technology agnostic) to assess the candidate’s programming skills, analytical & problem-solving skills, emotional quotient and cultural fit, and most importantly, the attitude to learn.

athenahealth has implemented special mentoring and coaching programs to develop a leadership pipeline internally and encourages internal mobility to provide growth opportunities within the organization

“Enabling growth in a very structured way, athenahealth has implemented special mentoring and coaching programs to develop a leadership pipeline internally and encourages internal mobility to provide growth opportunities within the organization based on the individual skill and competency. We also have a strong culture of mentoring and ‘leaders developing leaders’,” adds Jessy Kurien, Executive Director - Engineering. In fact, the company’s Director - Engineering, Nimit Sinha, came aboard right from the IIT campus fifteen years ago.

Key Management:
Ganesh Kondal, Lead Architect
Ganesh is a hands-on, passionate technology architect who has been building high volume distributed, resilient applications for more than two decades. He is a constant learner and has spent more than a decade in Silicon Valley with various startups and large companies. Some of his achievements include leading mobile product development, that is deployed across millions of mobile devices in the US.

Smitha Mave, Director - Engineering
Smitha is an engineering leader with extensive experience in building and mentoring high performance teams developing cutting edge technology solutions. Smitha is passionate about technology and innovation, and she has multiple patent disclosures and granted patents. Smitha is also a thought leader & regular speaker in various technical forums.

Jessy Kurien, Executive Director - Engineering
Jessy brings 20+ years of experience championing software excellence throughout the product development cycle from envisioning to design & implementation, delivery and customer feedback. She is a huge advocate of agile methodologies, the resulting focus on customer centered development & iterative learning.

Prior to joining athenahealth as Executive Director- Engineering, Jessy served 19+ years as the Senior Director with GE Healthcare. Jessy is a prestigious recipient of General Electric’s highest Edison engineering award for distinguished contribution, outstanding expertise and impact from Chairman & CEO John Flannery.

Locations: Watertown, MA (Headquarter), Atlanta, Austin, Belfast, ME, Seattle, Burlington, VT, Bangalore, Chennai, & Pune