August 23, 2017

Positioning the Accolade Technology Platform for Growth

By Accolade Marketing

The phone at Johnny Guillen's desk kept ringing. This was two years ago, and Guillen was hard at work at the company he'd co-founded five years before. He'd built much of this company's technology platform out of his own apartment. He and his wife had welcomed a daughter into their lives in the meantime. He had projects to finish, but as he tried to work, that phone just kept ringing.

Finally, Guillen got in touch with the Accolade recruiter who had been leaving messages. There was a job opening, the recruiter explained, that Guillen should consider applying for— a senior user interface engineer position that had been created to help this growing healthcare company advance their technology platform.

Intrigued, Guillen took the interview. Soon, he had the job.

Data rich, the Accolade technology platform enables Accolade Health Assistants to deliver personalized healthcare support to customers by placing all key information relating the family's health and benefits history within seamless reach. The platform had already undergone revisions and improvements by the time Guillen arrived. But there was a desire to do much more—to evaluate the interface framework and test prototypes to determine which technology solution would serve Accolade best going forward.


📷It was a perfect challenge for Guillen, who had studied both computer science and business at school and who had experience both in building and evaluating frameworks. Following months of deep reading and prototype testing, Guillen and his team chose a JavaScript library, React, upon which Accolade would be able to layer a number of both planned and proposed modularized components. They then began to build a JavaScript ecosystem, capable of creating new modules and applications to deliver an improved and unified user experiences across all Accolade applications.

“Our goal was to ensure that Accolade would be as agile as possible from a technology perspective,” Guillen explains. “Our customer list was growing. Our scope of services and capabilities was growing. We had to be able to meet the demands of the day while also planning for the future. Along the way we had to reduce the amount of context switching that our developers had been experiencing. Thanks to an ecosystem change, we're now able to use the same code on the browser and the server.”

Eight months into his job, Guillen, who was based in Plymouth Meeting, listened as a new CEO, Raj Singh, spoke of his vision for the company, and of the plan to create a Seattle-based office. Guillen, who had met his wife in Northern California and had promised to return with her one day, turned to an Accolade colleague and mentioned how wonderful he thought it would be to transfer his work to the new Seattle office. Guillen called his wife. He started to dream. A few months later, he and his family were on their way to Seattle.

Guillen laughs when he tells the story. He remarks on the serendipitous nature of it all—that a recruiter found him and opened the Accolade door. That Singh arrived and created a Seattle office. That he and his family are living in a world where everything seems green.

“I never really hiked before, but now I'm hiking,” Guillen says. “I never camped before, but now I'm camping. Coming to Accolade has not only changed my professional world; it's made me an outdoors person living in a city that is full of interesting people working in the tech industry.”

Not long ago, Guillen and his colleagues hosted a Seattle React JavaScript meet-up for the community of engineers, technocrats and enthusiasts focusing on Application Development Engineers (JavaScript/React/React Native). The event was sold out. The speaker, an engineer who had rebuilt Skype using the same tools and framework that Accolade has adopted, provided keen insights into the current and future state of this kind of technology.

“It was fantastic,” Guillen says. “It was a reminder that we had made the right decision for Accolade—and a chance to share our story with others in the community.”

When asked what it takes to be a member of this Accolade User Experience team, Guillen said, “We have a lot of fun. This is probably the most fulfilling job I've ever had. It's such a cool thing to know that the work we are doing helps Accolade Health Assistants quickly tap into the information they need to help the people who depend on them. We're always doing more, always looking at ways to solve problems, always anticipating new apps, new technologies, new needs—helping to build accumulators to help track medical costs, for example, or helping to integrate all the communications channels.”

It's fun, Guillen says. It's meaningful. You take big risks. You fix any mistakes you make with speed. You learn as much as you can. And you keep going.

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