CTOs to know: How Erin Karam is building a better healthcare communications platform

Written by Andreas Rekdal
Published on May. 09, 2016
CTOs to know: How Erin Karam is building a better healthcare communications platform

As social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter show, information sharing can be easy and engaging — so engaging, in fact, that some of us spend hours exchanging facts and opinions on them on a weekly basis. So why is it that communications between healthcare providers, patients and and families are so convoluted and confusing?

— a Chicago-based healthtech company — is working to create a better way for healthcare providers and customers to connect digitally. We talked to their CTO, Erin Karam, about how her team is making it happen.

What technologies power your business?

Healthcare is a very interesting industry from a technology perspective. In some ways, healthcare technology is incredibly advanced, like with personalized medicine and genetic testing. However, when it comes to engaging consumers or making it easier to share information between patients and their caregivers, healthcare is far behind other consumer products.

PreparedHealth's enTouch platform is a best in class mobile and web experience supported by a distributed cloud architecture. We tap on the newest web technologies like WebSockets and responsive design to deliver the best user experience for our customers. On the backend, we have distributed services reading from queues that allow us to scale to meet demand in real time. All of this runs directly on your mobile devices and in our HIPAA compliant cloud.

What are the most important tech developments you’re keeping an eye on this year?

Our team is closely following the newest developments in machine learning, artificial intelligence, microservices and bot architecture. These up-and-coming technologies will help us really bring life into our platform, while at the same time keeping a maintainable and loosely coupled architecture.

As the Internet of Things continues to mature and grow, we are also keeping an eye on connected health devices. Many of our users already sport devices that may bring tremendous value to the conversation if tapped properly. The key for us and struggle for many is how to filter the noise to highlight the real value.

What are the biggest tech projects your team is working on this year?

PreparedHealth's mantra, “be prepared,” is a core tenet that drives our roadmap. We developed a virtual Care Coordinator to help deliver on the promise. Her name is DINA — which stands for DIgital Nursing Assistant. We are working to make her smarter every day by teaching her when and how to chime into conversations with patients, their families and/or teams of caregivers. We are training DINA to predict risk and intervene based on a number of factors. She'll be able to interject and shine a light when things are going downhill, and be ready to step in with educational content and preventative care measures to keep us healthy for the long term.

What are the biggest technological hurdles your team has faced, and how did you overcome them?

Our biggest hurdle has been how we move fast and stay nimble despite an ever growing code base and feature set.

I have always been a bit of a DevOps fanatic. Being agile is just lip service without continuous integration, testing and deployment. We tie it all together with a contemporary centralized Noc. We see all real time-errors as they happen in the field, and are able to take action instantly to ensure the best experience for our customers.

This automation not only keeps us sane but frees us up to focus on tackling bigger problems.

What are some lessons you've learned about working in Chicago that other local entrepreneurs can learn from?

The Chicago market is strong and fresh with talent. Immerse yourself in the local scene and you will find really talented technologists, passionate about what they do. What I've learned is that a little bit of giving goes a long way. Go out and find a way to share your talents with the community. You will be rewarded in unexpected ways.

What do you look for when hiring engineers?

We look for folks who love to create and constantly learn new things. Curiosity coupled with self-motivation can be a dangerous combination. Our engineers have a good understanding of our mission and bring unique perspectives and leadership to our solutions. Most importantly, they realize their work here directly impacts the wellbeing of others. That's a pretty great feeling.

What else do you want the Chicago startup community to know about what you're working on?

We're growing! We're looking for talented people to come join us and change healthcare.

Image via PreparedHealth.

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