“We have everything in place for fast growth: brand recognition, references, an offer of advanced products, and a great team.”

Work in the field of healthcare requires high quality, reliability, and responsibility.

We spoke with Tomaž Gornik, Better’s founder and CEO, about the specifics of working in digital healthcare, his company’s plans and future development, its culture and values, and also what they are looking for in their employees...

How would you briefly present your company to someone who has never heard of it?

Better’s mission is to make the work of healthcare teams easier by accelerating digitalisation in three areas: improving the user experience, speeding up application development, and organising healthcare data.

As a company, we are becoming global. We have more than 150 clients in 16 countries, including several in the EU, the United Kingdom, Russia, Australia, New Zealand, and of course also in Slovenia. Last year we opened a subsidiary in the United Kingdom, and this summer we are opening a company in Germany. It is also quite likely that we will also open a company in one of the other countries we are currently working in.

We work in the field of digital healthcare, where we have developed advanced and innovative solutions for healthcare organisations or systems at the city, regional, or country-wide level. Our main product, Better Platform, is an open platform for managing healthcare data (i.e. a digital health platform). It allows applications from different providers to access common information. This prevents “data silos”, which hinder the exchange and use of such data in today’s healthcare systems. Our apps optimise the work processes that are helping to improve healthcare. For example, the function of Better Meds is to digitalise the processes of transcribing, administrating, and coordinating medications in hospitals. It was designed to ease the work of doctors, nurses, and clinical pharmacists, while also ensuring greater patient safety.

What makes you special? Why is working for you different from working for other companies?

Our solutions are unique and innovative. They are based on open technology which unifies, simplifies, and provides low-cost access to healthcare data. The segment we operate in, healthcare, is an important one for maintaining the health of all people, so the quality and reliability of the solutions we provide must be of the highest possible quality. We develop our solutions with a great degree of responsibility and an awareness of the impact this technology has on people’s health. Until now, the importance of high-quality healthcare data has been relatively undervalued, and this is something which became especially clear this past year, as humanity was threatened by a pandemic.

Another thing that makes us special, at least for now, is that most of our knowledge comes from one of the smallest countries in Europe, but it is likely that our existence and work is more well-known in the United Kingdom than in Slovenia. This is something we will change, of course. The fact is that we have proven ourselves more through our work and knowledge than with aggressive advertising. We compete with enormous, billion-dollar companies in the area of healthcare, and we have been successful, as among our clients we can count several top-tier healthcare institutions, such as German hospitals in Berlin (Charité), more than 30 hospitals in the United Kingdom, cities (Moscow), and even entire countries (national-scale projects in Malta, Slovenia, and Wales).

How will Better develop in the coming years? What are your plans?

We are in a period of rapid growth, in terms of both doing business and human resources. This year we are expecting an increase of 60% in revenue and at least 40% in new employees. Currently, we have about 130 people in our team, and more than 30 of them were hired in the last 12 months. Due to this expansion to the size of our team, in autumn of this year we will be moving to a new location which will be better adapted to our work and the well-being of our team. There, we will have enough room for up to 200 employees to work effectively.

But it is not just about growth. This year we are anticipating some ground-breaking contracts which will allow us to enter into new areas. One of them, for example, is the broad field of cancer treatment, which receives relatively poor coverage from the solutions of large providers. The second is the pharmaceutical area of healthcare data, as it has become apparent that pharmaceutical companies face similar data challenges to healthcare organisations: fragmentation, silos, and disconnectedness.

Already today, we are considered to be an interesting partner for cooperation with large consulting and service companies, such as Atos, CGI, EY, Microsoft, and others. Throughout our entire 30-year history we have been making a profit, so we have been financing ourselves from our own resources, and this means that we are not vulnerable to being purchased or acquired. If we determine in the future that even greater growth demands additional capital for development and acquisitions, we will carefully choose the investors ourselves; investors who will be compatible with our way of thinking, vision of healthcare, and plans for the future.

How would you briefly – in five words or concepts – describe the culture of your company?

Innovation and creativity: we rely on our own knowledge and the incredible abilities of our employees. From concept to solution, they know how to realise ideas quickly and with a high level of quality, so that they are applicable for as many of our users as possible.
Responsibility: our employees work in groups, but they are aware of the responsibilities and contributions of every single individual when it comes to achieving our goals.
Cooperation and team spirit: work takes place in groups, where individuals have their own tasks with a predetermined and common end goal. During execution, our employees help and encourage each other, and there is also an exchange of knowledge and experience among different teams.
Diversity and inclusion: we want to create an environment where there are no divisions whatsoever on the basis of gender, race, nationality, religion, or even knowledge and abilities. We would also like to see more female co-workers, as they still make up less than a quarter of all employees.
Open communication in all directions: we have established an environment in which employees are not afraid to express their opinions or make suggestions, and where two-way communication is a constant, in both vertical and horizontal directions. Our hierarchy is as flat as possible, something which is intended to facilitate the efficient and effective work of individual segments. For example, every employee has the option of speaking with me in person – if he or she wants to.

What kind of talent do you look for? Besides technical knowledge and experience, do you also look for specific soft skills or values in your potential hires?

Of course, we want future employees to live the company values along with us. In addition to professional qualifications that are needed for a software development company, we also sometimes require knowledge of medicine and the organisation of healthcare. At least two-thirds of new employees solve tasks which demonstrate their interests, ability to think, and adaptability. In an organisation like ours, employees must be able to take the initiative, as well as being motivated and curious. And they should be brave too – as the saying goes, “Fortune favours the bold.”

What can you offer to talent? What are the possibilities for personal and career development?

In addition to continuous learning and professional advancement, our employees can also move up their career ladders. They can change their field of work and learn new skills, and those who are interested and have the desire will be included in the leadership and organisational structure. We provide incentivised rewards which we constantly refine, and employees currently have or will have the opportunity to take part in company ownership, either through company shares or rewards in the form of options.

Which project or initiative are you most proud of?

From all our projects I would like to highlight the digital transformation of the Division of Paediatrics at University Medical Centre Ljubljana. In the area of digitalisation, the clinic achieved a level 6 out of 7 according to the criteria set by EMRAM (the Electronic Medical Record Adoption Model) within the organisation HIMSS (the Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society). At the time there were only 26 such hospitals in the EU. Among our largest projects, I would highlight the digitalisation of the city of Moscow, where our platform is used to manage healthcare data for its 12 million residents, and that we provided a data platform for 8 of Germany’s best university hospitals which are incorporated into the HIGHmed consortium.

When it comes to initiatives, I should emphasise the fact that after 10 years of work, our vision of keeping data separate from healthcare applications is gaining more and more ground, and is even becoming the obvious solution.

Finally, two years ago we carried out a “demerging” with our previous company and have successfully begun to focus exclusively on digital healthcare, which has proved to be the right decision. Now we have all the necessary components for fast growth: brand recognition, references, an offer of advanced products, and – what is most important – a great team.

To whom should our readers turn to if they are interested in learning more about your offer, or applying for a job?

At the moment all vacancies are listed on our website. In any case, they can contact our HR department, any of our managers, or even someone they know who is employed with us. We have established a system of recommendations which provides special rewards to our employees if someone they recommend is hired, so any interested people will undoubtably find the right contact. For a better overview of what is happening with us, you can also follow us on social media: LinkedIn, Twitter or Facebook.

This article has been adapted from an interview which was published on the website of the VTIS Association: https://www.drustvovtis.si/ 

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