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Omada Engineering: Integrating to Keep Product Central


By Maria Latushkin, SVP of Engineering and Kyle Aungst, Software Engineer

You can tell a lot about a company -- and their product -- by how they treat their engineering function.

The R&D function is core to businesses, and the more complex the industry, the more skill and nuance is needed to create great products that engage users.  It’s difficult to imagine an industry more complex (or more regulated) than healthcare. The types of engineers Omada hires, and our approach to development, directly determines how our customers and participants experience our program. Great engineering is fundamental to our ability to deliver a best-in-class digital-enabled solution to market to create lasting change for participants.

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The name of our company means “team” in Greek, and collaboration is built into our DNA. This is evident in how our engineering team works, and an intentional decision designed to create a fully integrated solution that will maximize benefits for participants and their employers.

In many companies, engineering too often operates as an inaccessible “black box,” siloed from peer departments to which they need to sell, manage, or communicate. Other times, engineering is treated as a shared service, responding to company missives to land quick market wins, even if changes themselves may not be in the best interest of the participants.

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At Omada, our team is just that, our engineers work across multiple functions as a team. They are an equal partner, central to solving problems experienced by our users, and internal teams from product to commercial to medical affairs.  As we’ve expanded our digital health platform to incorporate services for patients managing type 2 diabetes, hypertension, anxiety, and depression, we’ve seen that this collaborative approach delivers a better product.  Our products are more intuitive for patients, easier for partners, and likely to drive better health and economic outcomes for all involved. Our entire company is focused on creating better outcomes.

Alternatives to this integrated approach do exist. Patching together disparate systems to, for example, quickly gain entrance to a market has the potential to sacrifice quality vs our approach where collaboration and knowledge-sharing are key. And a deliberate team approach to development doesn’t mean sacrificing speed; Omada maintains agility and pace from ensuring our teams work in lockstep.

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Our Engineering team members tell us they feel a sense of agency in the work they tackle. Units within the team identify areas where our program can be improved by intelligent use of technology. The changes begin as outcomes-oriented commitments -- a lift in engagement or key health indicator, the integration of data from connected devices, or a new functionality critical to our partners -- that are then operationalized as they get down to the team level. Engineers are at the table when product issues are being discussed, or a request comes through the Commercial or Medical Affairs teams. Unlike many organizations, engineering expertise is at the forefront of the process, where engineers can determine what is possible, what is important, and the trade offs that will be required to prioritize certain builds.

This structure is geared to both deliver a better product to market, and to enable our partners to understand when they can expect certain functionality. Our product, engineering, and commercial teams are working hand-in-hand so that our sales leaders know, with confidence, what they can commit to our existing partners and our incoming prospects. Yet another way our structure delivers better outcomes.

Practicing product-focused engineering also means we want our engineers to be visible to our stakeholders. This gives our engineering leads the opportunity to interface directly with external stakeholders themselves.  Engineers are more effective when we let them build understanding of, and empathy for, the issues facing our customers. With better understanding of participant and customer needs, they build better products. That opportunity for stakeholder interface is also a chance for career development, moving beyond the ability to write and execute code towards being able to articulate elegant solutions to complex problems.

In the next of our series on the Omada Engineering Team, we’ll dig into the six key values that drive our work:

  • Sustainability
  • Data-driven approach
  • Mindful collaboration
  • Shipping software
  • Diversity & inclusion
  • Learning and innovation

In the coming weeks, we’ll dive into how that foundation providers critical support when our engineers need to make tough trade offs in their work.