When confronted with a rare disease in the family, Dr. Shiv Rao, M.D., a cardiologist, recognized a major oversight when it comes to patient care: when you’re sick, tired and emotionally drained, it’s incredibly difficult to retain medical information during doctor’s appointments. From deciphering medical terminology to remembering nuanced changes to medication dosages, patients and caretakers needed a better way to stay on top of their health
While most technology in the healthcare market is focused on improving the provider experience, Dr. Rao and his colleagues, Sandeep Konam and Dr. Florian Metze, PhD, built a patient-centric service. Together in 2018, they co-founded Abridge, an app that helps people securely record their conversations with healthcare providers. More than a transcript, the app sifts out the most important information and breaks down medical terminology into layman’s terms. Patients can converse with their doctors without the stress of remembering every single detail.
The small, mission-driven healthtech company (currently at 13 employees) is fertile ground for motivated technologists looking for growth, ownership and the ability to shape the evolution of an innovative product and company culture.
With patients’ needs front and center, Abridge moves swiftly to productize its cutting-edge research. Being small and nimble has also enabled Abridge to adapt to situations on the fly. In response to COVID-19, the team shifted quickly to a completely remote workstyle, helped by its expertise in clear communication tactics. The pandemic also inspired a telehealth service, to offer patients the same level of support over the phone as it does in an office setting.
It’s those kinds of decisions, followed by the ability to implement and ship changes quickly, that show employees how impactful the work they do is in the real world. As one employee said, “Working to support telephone encounters is exciting right now. Being able to add that feature means we can help a lot of people during this crazy time.”
Based in Pittsburgh, Abridge thrives off the city’s hotbed of tech talent, expertise in machine learning and artificial intelligence research, and proximity to world-renowned institutions like Carnegie Mellon University and the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, where it works closely with staff to co-create products and solutions.
It's very transparent and collaborative here. I like that you can learn about every department and how to really build a company. We’re always learning, adapting quickly and making changes.Sai Prabhakar Senior Machine Learning Engineer
We all get sick, we all get old. We all hope for good care. If you have a vested interest in the healthcare issues we’re trying to solve, this is a great company to work for — there’s a lot of room for flexibility and self-management. We have a lot of say in what we do and the decisions that are made.Eileen Yan Senior Software Engineer, App Team
Working at Abridge is exciting, especially because we're focused on creating huge value for a part of people’s lives that is currently underserved by technology.Dan Bruce Engineering Manager, App Team
Tell us more about what makes the mission at Abridge different from other healthtech companies.
Most health tech companies reflect the broader healthcare system in being focused on everyone except the patient (i.e., improving the clinician’s workflow; enhancing delivery or consolidation of electronic medical information).
Our center of gravity is the patient, and our mission is to help people gain more context and understanding in their care. We want to give people the power to improve their overall health. We’re always incentivized to do the right thing for people, because our success stems from their positive experiences.
What are some of the tactical changes Abridge has implemented to adjust during the COVID-19 pandemic?
One of the advantages of having a smaller team is that we were able to adapt to a remote workforce really easily. Here are a few of the specific things we did:
● Instituted a notes channel on Slack to keep track of all formal decisions.
● Run a weekly all-hands meeting with rotating demos, or a show and tell, from each team; a weekly social lunch (we have GrubHub deliver food to everyone’s homes); and a weekly pairing of three random employees, so that people have a chance to check in on each other and increase the spread of information via more informal channels.
● Developed a “Deep Dive” series for the entire company where people will share something they’ve worked on and what it taught them.
What is your tech stack?
We use React Native for mobile and React for web applications. The machine learning team uses Python. On the back end we use Node, Python and Google Cloud.
But we will give any language or framework a go if we think it will be a good fit for what we are working on.
What are you looking for from job candidates?
We have a number of engineering roles opening up, such as an Android Engineer, DevOps, and Software Engineer.
We’re a small group of highly ambitious technologists. We look for talented people who take initiative, thrive in a fast-paced environment with limited resources, believe in humility, and who are collaborative and creative.
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