If there’s one thing healthtech company Pager knows, it’s that finding the right healthcare provider and accessing care isn’t the easiest process.
The company entered the healthtech space in 2014 and has since scaled for rapid growth to simplify navigating the healthcare system, to connect patients with healthcare experts and services they need, and to drastically improve the way patients interact with their care.
Engineering is currently the largest department at Pager with 40 engineers, and it’s expected to grow beyond 50 by the end of the year. We met with three members of Pager’s engineering team to learn how they are expanding product offerings and continuing to build out their patient and care team collaboration platform.
EMPLOYEES: 100+; 70+ locally
WHAT THEY DO: Through secure chat, video and voice, Pager connects patients with a unified care team for better communication and faster access to care.
WHERE THEY DO IT: NYC
GROWTH FROM GRASSROOTS: The company began by delivering on-demand house calls and has since grown to partner with leading health organizations — Cambia Health Solutions and Horizon BCBS of New Jersey, among others — to change the way people interact with their care.
Sameer Khanna, VP of Engineering
Sameer leads Pager’s engineering team and sets the strategy for company technology, ensuring their technology is well positioned to scale enterprise usage while meeting existing customers’ day-to-day needs.
IMPROVING BY DOING: To prepare for his work in healthcare, Sameer became an EMT to get a hands-on understanding of how the healthcare system works and what technology could do to make the system work better for everyone.
What do you find most important in leading a team? How do you set your team up for success, and how do you handle challenges as they present themselves?
I strive to create a collaborative culture that allows for teamwork and trust, with clear goals and priorities. To ensure everyone on the team understands our strategic direction and the roadmap to get there, we have quarterly cross-departmental planning meetings. From there, we break down engineering priorities so that we can tackle each problem in a very structured manner. I believe bringing every team member into this planning process and being transparent contextualizes our work so that we can problem-solve not just as an engineering team but as a company.
As a global team, we have also invested in strong communication processes to ensure that, regardless of location, every team member feels their voice is heard. We host quarterly in-person on-sites/off-sites to make sure that everyone is connected, collaborating and set up for success. These on-sites are always a good time — engineers take over the Pager office and get to spend time together both at the office and outside exploring NYC.
I strive to create a collaborative culture that allows for teamwork and trust, with clear goals and priorities.”
How has your product or tech evolved from when you first started? What are you able to do now that you couldn’t then?
Over the past four years, we have become a sophisticated enterprise-facing company with technologies like SDKs and enterprise SaaS products. Our technology is much more configurable and scalable thanks to our investment in microservice architecture. Pager is a great learning environment with numerous opportunities for people to gain new skills — our team holds a lot of knowledge, and the challenges we are facing encourages people to learn quickly from one another.
We’re told you have a very unique process with regard to how engineers are able to see how the platform plays out in real-time. Can you describe that process and how it’s beneficial to engineers?
As both a technology and service company, we have on-site nurses and care coordinators that are actively using the Pager Command Center on a daily basis. As an engineer, it is a unique experience to see both end users of the platform and the direct impact on patients’ lives in a real-time healthcare setting. We encourage our engineers to collaborate with our nurses and care coordinators to share feedback, learnings, and ultimately, make a targeted solution for our customers.
William Tran, Lead Machine Learning Engineer
William leads Pager’s machine learning and data engineering team, splitting his time between technical architecture development and project planning for future AI applications in the Pager platform.
A VISUAL JOURNAL: In his daily life, William appreciates photography as a creative outlet to catalog what he sees and feels, and as a space to experiment with viewers’ interpretations.
What about your company or your work inspires you?
Every two weeks or so, our office will have an all-hands meeting where different teams will give a recap of the state of the platform. We always end with real user testimonies about their experience with us, which I think brings everyone’s focus back to what really matters: the well-being of the users.
Beyond those aggregated metrics lie real human beings. Most of our users come to Pager-powered apps when they are sick and trust our team to help them navigate the labyrinth that is the American healthcare system. Every new feature that we deploy as engineers has the potential to help our users at their most vulnerable moments. That level of real-time responsibility is quite exceptional among tech startups.
Every new feature that we deploy as engineers has the potential to help our users at their most vulnerable moments.”
How is AI involved in your technology? How is it utilized differently with Pager’s product than elsewhere on the market?
I think much of the current conversation around AI technology is driven by the assumption that it will displace human workers. That is not the case here at Pager. We consider the human element irreplaceable in a healthcare setting because our interactions with patients rely on mutual trust and empathy.
To that end, the objective of AI at Pager is to give our clinical staff superpowers. One of the ways we do this is to automate the repetitive administrative aspect of their daily duties so that clinicians can focus their attention on our patients. Another avenue for AI is to give clinicians access to patients’ complete medical profile by integrating with external data sources and surfacing salient insights at critical junctures of the care process. The ultimate goal for us is to maximize the “quality time” our clinical staff gets to spend with our patients.
Tell us about a project your team has developed. What impact does that have on your company and its main mission? How does it solve an issue in your industry?
One of the projects that I am most proud of is our ETL pipeline, which allows us to import and export healthcare data from our partners. Data integration — rather, the lack thereof — is an industry-wide problem for healthcare, where patient data is locked in silos across multiple organizations. As part of our own effort to tackle this, we implemented the Fast Healthcare Interoperability Resources (FHIR) data interchange. By being an early adopter of this new standard, we strive to provide technological leadership among our partners by driving their adoption of FHIR.
Kirsten Chong, Full-Stack Engineer
Kirsten is a full-stack engineer and currently divides her time between new product development on the front end and existing service maintenance on the backend.
TOUR DE MANHATTAN: Kirsten bikes to work every day and participates in bike tours around Manhattan with fellow members of her engineering team.
In what ways does Pager offer opportunities for employees to impact other parts of the business?
I started my career at Pager as the financial controller. I had been considering a career change for a few years and finally decided to become an engineer in 2018. Not only did Pager respect my decision, the people ops team and engineering leadership also actively created the opportunity for me to join Pager’s engineering team. It is a unique opportunity to have worked for a company in two different capacities, and I am beyond grateful to have found an organization that encourages employees to pursue their interests and professional growth.
[...] I am beyond grateful to have found an organization that encourages employees to pursue their interests and professional growth.”
How did Pager inspire you to shift from finance to software engineering, and how has the leadership team supported your ongoing growth?
I have worked at tech startups of different sizes and along the way, I became more intrigued by coding and software development. While I was working in finance at Pager, I got to know the engineers through company outings and explored what it would be like to work as an engineer. Once I decided to pursue engineering, the entire Pager team provided guidance in choosing a bootcamp and specific technologies that would best position me as a junior developer.