Connect with Olivia Adams, principal software engineer

By Carley Thornell | September 13, 2022


Olivia Adams is no stranger to building networks — in every sense of the word.

The athenahealth principal software engineer spent part of her maternity leave building a website that aggregated vaccination appointments across government sites and those owned by private businesses, while helming a volunteer effort to keep momentum going. The site made vaccinations for Massachusetts residents a lot easier than disparate websites, and put Adams on the Boston Globe’s 2021 Bostonians of the Year list and news outlets across the country.

More recently, Adams’  involvement leading athenahealth’s first Codefest — a five-day event to design, develop, test, and release production-quality features related to gender-affirming care — earned the company a 2022 Fast Company Best Workplaces for Innovators award.

Please share three words to describe yourself.

Problem-solver, for sure. Action-oriented ... and maybe “take-charge.” [laughs]

Those sound like great qualities for an innovator! But how would you define that term?

A lot of people who work at athena are problem-solvers. I think that's what we all have in common — everybody wants to make a difference.

I think that innovation is not just creating an innovative solution or something new. It’s also how your brain works when trying something new, and challenging yourself to do something different. Or even just doing something that someone else has done slightly differently, or slightly better. When the layperson thinks of innovation, they think of somebody making Facebook, or starting from nothing and making something that turns out amazing. And that happens. But it's a lot easier to be innovative in that sense than to try something new and then make Facebook. [laughs]

Being a new mom can be difficult enough, especially in the middle of a pandemic. What motivated you, and what did you learn?

When I saw that there were a lot of people — my family included — struggling to figure out how and where to get COVID vaccines, I was like ‘I'm a web developer. And my baby's sleeping.’ I had a little voice inside me that said, ‘One person might be able to use this. So you should do it. And then, share it.’  One person can make a difference. You have to just challenge yourself to make that jump and go for it.

What’s your “normal” day to day?

I am working on our chronic care management offering now. The work’s definitely not monotonous, even though we have our routines. We have a team meeting every morning to make sure that everybody is able to do good work throughout the day. And I take a lunch break with the same people every day. I love having that routine. But our work is anything but! We're working on new micro services in the cloud, and new technologies.

What inspires you?

[With chronic care management] I think that we're tackling a really cool problem at the intersection of value-based care and fee-for-service. And I personally relate to the cause a lot, having a disabled kid at home. I understand the need for having care management, and how having that attentive care between visits can really create better outcomes for patients.

Want to hear more?
Get insights from athenahealth’s open and connected ecosystem delivered right to your inbox.
Sign Up