Kaiser Permanente, Leader in IT and Technology Innovation
What do robots, self-driving cars, mobile apps, acres of servers, and ectobytes of data have to do with healthcare? Everything. This summer, I have the privilege of interning at Kaiser Permanente’s headquarters in Oakland, California. Kaiser Permanente’s mission is to provide high-quality, affordable health care services and to improve the health of our 10 million members and the communities we serve. But behind all that stands over 10,000 IT professionals. I’m one of them.
I’m an analytics graduate intern within the Mobility Center of Excellence – the team responsible for developing, certifying and delivering all of Kaiser Permanente’s mobile apps. Our portfolio includes nearly twenty internally-developed apps and a large number of third party apps that are used in medical, administrative, and recreational settings on a daily basis.
Pictured above: Kaiser Permanente’s Oakland headquarters
My work focuses on Kaiser Permanente’s fitness-tracking app, Every Body Walk. My job is to analyze data on app usage and work with product managers and designers to make data-driven decisions. For example, after rolling out a new feature, we can quantify the ways in which it impacts user behavior, and from there, decide whether and how to develop the feature further.
I also create data visualizations and infographics that track key metrics and highlight milestones. (In case you’re wondering, Every Body Walk app users combined walked farther than the distance to the moon last quarter!) Additionally, I’m currently building a reference guide for product managers on how best to incorporate data analytics and data visualization into the app development cycle.
In my spare time, I go for afternoon walks with my boss to test early versions of the Every Body Walk app on the Apple Watch!
Pictured above: me testing the Every Body Walk app on the Apple Watch
Professional growth opportunities
Other aspects of my internship have been attending company-sponsored intern and executive speaker seminars and presenting a business idea to Kaiser Permanente’s Chief Information Officer.
I’ve toured a medical center, an innovation center, and a data center, seeing first-hand how Kaiser Permanente is using smart robots to deliver supplies to patients in hospitals, envisioning how self-driving cars with medical support systems might deliver on-the-go care in the future, and re-imagining medical office design to create environments that people actually enjoy.
I’ve also heard talks from and connected with senior leaders, such as Chief Technology Officer, Mike Sutten, and Senior Vice President of Corporate Services & Digital Technologies, Wendy Lee.
The highlight of my internship has been presenting to Dick Daniels, Kaiser Permanente’s CIO. Earlier in the summer, I was selected to lead a five-intern team tasked with researching and building out a business idea related to using data analytics to help people achieve better total health. Our solution leveraged behavioral data collected through the Every Body Walk app, personal data from the phones of app users, and environmental data from public sources to craft intelligent and personalized exercise plans that adapt to the changing needs of Every Body Walk users over time. My group, along with six other teams of interns, presented our ideas to the CIO and his senior staff in a formal pitch. He was impressed and we had a great time!
Pictured above: IT interns with CIO, Dick Daniels
How Rady Prepared Me for Success
The skills I developed at Rady help me perform better at work on a daily basis. Here are three specific examples:
Week-after-week I honed my public speaking and presentation design skills in Professor Todd Salovey’s Management Communications class and Professor Ken Wilbur’s Marketing class, which was key in helping me develop the confidence I needed to be a strong presenter. Thank goodness for that: I find myself constantly presenting my work to others—in team meetings, on conference calls, and in formal pitches to executives.
Professor Michael Meyer’s New Product Development class taught me about the product development process and how to think empathetically about design. My team at Kaiser Permanente follows an agile development methodology that mirrors the “build-measure-learn” cycle I’d learned about in class. Understanding how each element of the process contributes to the product’s success, as well as recognizing the importance of being actively empathetic towards users, has made me a more effective team member.
Professor Charlie Sprenger’s Competitive Strategy class and Professor Chris Parsons’ Finance class taught me how to think about mathematical models from the perspective of a business leader and how to appreciate the implications of sensitivities in a model’s assumptions when making business decisions. Developing such a framework for thinking about challenges that Kaiser Permanente’s IT organization faces, such as how to hedge against risks like power outages and data breaches, gave me perspective that led to meaningful conversations with executives during seminars.
Thanks to Rady Careers and Students
I’ve also benefitted immensely from the Rady Careers team and fellow Rady students, who helped me realize the importance of networking and gave me opportunities to meet key people in companies I’m interested in working for post-MBA, like Kaiser Permanente.
I’ve seen firsthand how absolutely vital it is to build meaningful relationships with colleagues and make meeting new people a priority. Indeed, I got an early call from Kaiser Permanente through a contact I made on Rady’s Bay Area Trek. I’ve made connecting with others a priority at Kaiser Permanente and have many wonderful new friends to show for it.
Pictured above: me with fellow interns and our mentor, out for an afternoon walking meeting through Kaiser Permanente’s rooftop garden
I’ve greatly enjoyed my summer experience at Kaiser Permanente and recently agreed to continue working part-time through the upcoming school year. My post-MBA goal is to work in healthcare information technology or management in San Diego.
Allison Noel (’16) is an MBA candidate at the Rady School of Management focusing on business analytics, strategy, and leadership. She is currently interning at Kaiser Permanente within the Corporate Services & Digital Technologies division of IT in Oakland, CA. In her spare time, she enjoys triathlons, beach volleyball, and cooking with her husband.