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Can Our Code Fix Health Care? We Think So.

by Jeremy Trelstad, Director of Recruiting

As you can imagine, we are always on the hunt for top-drawer talent to help us realize our vision of building the nation’s health information backbone. By now, many Bostonians have seen our billboards—“Can your code fix healthcare?”—aimed at promising developers and placed in strategic locations in and around Boston’s public transit system. In the recruiting world, we compete for top talent with all the big tech players like Google, Amazon, Microsoft and a host of other  employers in the Boston area. The cool thing is that if we can get a technologist to look at athenahealth, they quickly realize two things: There is a very meaningful opportunity to help fix something that is massively broken in this country; and they’ll get a lot of the same perks they would at other tech companies.

These days there are plenty of stories out there about free sodas, foosball tables and laundry services as the staple benefits for tech companies. At athenahealth, we believe it’s important to have these types of benefits, but we pick carefully to make sure they align well with our values. We are not just trying to keep up with the Joneses— we’re actually trying to make our employees’ lives easier and more fulfilling.

Like many companies, we have free soda in the fridges (and very good beer... gasp! Yes,we do expect our employees to act like adults… double gasp.) Unlike many companies, we have an on-site Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) program through The Farm School. Nothing like organic, grass-fed beef to enhance engagement! We even have our café chef cook up all kinds of delicious meals using this fresh, local produce.

The tangible perks are great, but we should acknowledge that most athenahealth employees are really in it for themselves—and by that, I mean they are looking for real career growth. We have invested heavily in training our employees, both on the nuts-and-bolts of health care and our products, have a growing leadership development program, and  can boast a 33% or higher transfer and promotion rate.

When we talk about having implicit opportunities to grow at athenahealth, we can say that one in three athenistas will find themselves in a new role within the company this year and every year. Personally, I have had the fortunate opportunity to work for athenahealth for 15 years and I have had seven different roles. No wonder I haven’t left!

All of these perks and development opportunities really come back to the fact that, as an organization, we believe in innovation. We encourage everyone to try new things, so much so that some of us call it “launch and learn.” This is a very common mentality in smaller start-ups, more out of necessity than anything else. But as athenahealth has grown over the years, we realized this was a special part of our culture we did not want to lose. So we invested in it. 

As a result of this culture of innovation, we have been able to create something special. Our “social code” seems to be running smoothly and surprisingly well across the diverse “operating systems” of our 2,000+ employees. And there is no better validation for this than our recent selection as one of the top places to work in Massachusetts by the Boston Globe, both by size and as a tech company. And we made these lists based on the program’s independent survey of our employees. I’d take that as affirmation that our code is working!

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