Health Tech: Alan Matuszak On How Greenphire’s Technology Can Make An Important Impact On Our Overall Wellness
Get inspiration from unexpected sources — Sometimes the best ideas come from experiences outside of our own industry. A strong and diverse team will bring in ideas and best practices from their previous work experience and from their use of technology in their lives.
In recent years, Big Tech has gotten a bad rep. But of course many tech companies are doing important work making monumental positive changes to society, health, and the environment. To highlight these, we started a new interview series about “Technology Making An Important Positive Social Impact”. We are interviewing leaders of tech companies who are creating or have created a tech product that is helping to make a positive change in people’s lives or the environment. As a part of this series, I had the pleasure of interviewing Alan Matuszak.
As Chief Technology Officer at Greenphire, Alan Matuszak is responsible for leading Greenphire’s software engineering and technical infrastructure related functions, ensuring security, scalability, and reliability across the company’s solution suite. With over thirty years of experience delivering software solutions for multiple industries, Alan has a diverse combination of skills in the areas of technology strategy, architecture, design, integration, and software development of SaaS products.
Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series. Before we dive in, our readers would love to learn a bit more about you. Can you tell us a bit about your childhood backstory and how you grew up?
I grew up in suburban Chicago. When I was young I thought I was going to be a professional baseball player, until I realized you have to be really good to become a professional athlete. I decided to go to the University of Houston to get away from the cold weather and immediately knew I wanted to be a programmer. I went on to become a software engineer in the oil and gas industry. I also worked as a software engineer in real estate, telecommunications,, and higher education until I transitioned into life sciences. While these are all very different industries, it’s all about what it takes to make great software — understanding the market, being a part of a great team, and maintaining processes.
Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you began your career?
One of the most interesting stories that I can recall is years ago during my time as a software engineer in the mortgage industry. I traveled with a team to meet with the client and when we got there we realized that our team missed the mark and that the product did not meet the customers’ needs. Over our lunch break we rewrote the code, developing the product to better meet their needs and demoed it to the client. We won the business. Nowadays, I’m not sure that would have worked out the same way!
None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?
I’ve had a lot of great mentors, coworkers and managers who have helped me along the way. David Tandy, my manager when I worked for Stewart Title in Houston, is one individual who stands out the most. David had a great background as a title insurance expert. Although he hired me as a programmer and software development manager, he knew the only way to be successful as a software engineer was to know the business. I spent the first three months on the job learning about the title insurance business, traveling to agencies, and really getting to know the business inside and out. Based on what David taught me, that’s how I do everything now — I make sure I know the business before I get into the technology.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
One of my favorite quotes is, “What doesn’t kill us makes us stronger.” While it might be cliche, I’ve learned firsthand that, if I don’t lose a client over a mistake, it is an opportunity to make our relationship stronger. No one likes to fail, but getting knocked down is actually a critical part to success.
You are a successful business leader. Which three character traits do you think were most instrumental to your success? Can you please share a story or example for each?
- Focus on the most simple solution that solves the problem at hand. Ask questions that make the most sense.
- It’s most important to listen. Take the time to understand what the customer, employee, or partner is saying to you and try to see things from their perspective. Verify your understanding through questions and never respond in a defensive manner.
- Be open to learning from others and be prepared to accept their ideas. Teams can always accomplish more than individuals. Find what each person can contribute to the goal and give them an opportunity to be a part of the solution.
Ok super. Let’s now shift to the main part of our discussion about the tech tools that you are helping to create that can make a positive impact on our wellness. To begin, which particular problems are you aiming to solve?
Sponsors, CROs, and sites face many challenges when conducting clinical trials, including recruiting and retaining participants. It can be difficult for participants to find a trial that meets their needs. Sponsors and CROs need to find ways to:
- Make it easier for participants to find appropriate clinical trials
- Reduce burdens for research sites — providing them with tools to minimize administrative tasks and allow them to focus on patient care
- Eliminate barriers for patients to participate and keep them engaged — providing them with door to door travel services, payment for their time and reimbursement for items such as childcare, gas, etc.
How do you think your technology can address this?
Greenphire’s technology removes the financial burden for participants and makes sure that their expenses are reimbursed and they’re paid for their time for the milestones achieved in the trial. We also help participants when there are situations where travel is involved. Our technology offers an easy solution for participants to schedule Lyft rides for local trials and also helps coordinate more complex travel (i.e., when a patient has to travel between cities, states and even countries). We don’t want patients to miss out on the benefits of the trial because of cost or because of where they’re geographically located.
How do you think this might change the world?
Our solutions are making a difference across the globe. We’ve worked with sponsors, sites, and CROs in over 70 countries to design and improve our payment and budgeting solutions with a high level of flexibility. The future is mobile and trial information must be accessible to all patients at all times. Having this information at their fingertips, patients are more likely to find a trial, stay enrolled, and continue to engage even once the trial is complete.
Here is the main question for our discussion. Based on your experience and success, can you please share “Five things you need to know to successfully create technology that can make a positive social impact”? (Please share a story or an example, for each.)
- Partner with companies that have demonstrated success — Through the use of our knowledge and proven success, we have been able to partner with other companies that share the same passion we have for improving the clinical trial experience.
- Listen to client feedback — Greenphire depends on feedback from sponsors, CROs, and sites in order to improve the customer experience. In order to create successful technology, you must listen to feedback from your customers and find ways to implement improvements based on that feedback.
- Understand the SDLC landscape — Software developers must not only understand the landscape of the technology they’re creating but also understand the software development life cycle as a whole. It’s important to know the market in order to keep up with technology trends and build products efficiently. Agile scrum offers a way for multiple teams to connect and work together in finding a solution to the problem.
- Build a strong team — In order to create successful technology, you must have a strong team that shares the same passion for the craft and is built for the long run. The technology you’re creating has much more success and impact when the project involves experts that are passionate about what they do. This also includes creating an inclusive and diverse culture within the company. This keeps the team engaged and excited about products and allows them to have fun while building them.
- Get inspiration from unexpected sources — Sometimes the best ideas come from experiences outside of our own industry. A strong and diverse team will bring in ideas and best practices from their previous work experience and from their use of technology in their lives.
If you could tell other young people one thing about why they should consider making a positive impact on our environment or society, like you, what would you tell them?
I would tell young people to find an industry and company that does something they have a passion for. For example, working in life sciences provides you the opportunity to work in an industry that is making an impact every day — helping to find cures for cancer and rare diseases, and developing vaccines for infectious diseases like COVID. Ask yourself how the industry you want a career in benefits society as a whole.
Is there a person in the world, or in the US with whom you would like to have a private breakfast or lunch, and why? He or she might just see this, especially if we tag them. 🙂
Mitch Albom — I just read “the five people you meet in heaven” and am now reading “For One More Day.” I think he is a great author and would love to learn more about how he comes up with such great storylines.
How can our readers further follow your work online?
Follow Greenphire’s social channels:
Thank you so much for joining us. This was very inspirational, and we wish you continued success in your important work.
Health Tech: Alan Matuszak On How Greenphire’s Technology Can Make An Important Impact On Our… was originally published in Authority Magazine on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.