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Firely Updates
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What it’s like to work at Firely – we share the inside story 

Rien Wertheim

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Have you ever asked yourself what it’s really like to work at Firely? What are the people like? How about the culture? What makes us different from other companies in the sector? How does it feel to work for one of the initiators of FHIR itself?    

Firely employs around forty people in Europe and the USA. That’s a lot of FHIR knowledge, and the benefits aren’t just for Firely customers: anyone who joins us can be sure they’ll be working with experts.

But to answer these questions in more depth, we spoke to four team members with very different roles and backgrounds to find out why they applied to work with us, and whether reality matched their expectations. Here’s what they told us.

Sieuwkje Steenhuizen, Customer Support Team, Amsterdam  

Photo of Sieuwkje Steenhuizen

I guess I took the long way round on my journey towards working at Firely. When I finished my Masters in Molecular and Cellular Life Sciences I wasn’t keen to continue in academia, but there just weren’t many jobs on offer for biologists outside the university.

Working as a lab tech didn’t stretch my mind at all, so after a year or so I made the switch to IT. After working for a business intelligence consultancy for a while, I was lucky enough to get an introduction at Furore, an ICT specialist in healthcare and science, and got assigned to Firely.

I joined the support team last year and it feels like I’ve finally found my niche. A typical day starts with checking if anything has come in on the support channels, issue tracking system, or email. Some tickets are easy to solve, but others need deeper investigation, especially technical questions about Firely Server. The afternoon usually involves picking up testing tickets, updating documentation, and attending development team meetings.

The assignment comes with two great privileges: solving issues for customers, and the chance to learn from expert colleagues every day. 

“ Firely is an open, friendly, and supportive working environment, which helps me learn really quickly. I always feel comfortable asking questions.”

Sieuwkje Steenhuizen, Firely Customer Support

Eugene Blokhin, senior software engineer, Amsterdam

I fell in love with programming at the age of 13 and studied it by myself while I was still at school. A degree in information systems was the obvious next step, and I graduated from university in St Petersburg in 2014.

Photo of Eugene Blokhin

Most of my career since then has been about developing backend software but I’ve also had experience implementing 3D games and low-level code for microcontrollers.

I applied to work at Firely because I’m really motivated by building software, rather than working for a reseller where there’s less direct involvement with product quality. It’s great to be in a team with knowledgeable and professional colleagues, and the codebase is in good shape, so it’s pleasant to work with. I feel I’m making a valuable contribution, and at the same time I’m always learning something new.  

“Everyone here is truly passionate about FHIR and about creating great solutions. I’m delighted to be working with some of the top people in this sub-sector. I have to pinch myself sometimes.”

Eugene Blokhin, senior software engineer

As a software engineer I often see connections that others don’t, and I’m inspired by the engineering beauty that underpins the information technology world as we know it. From semi-conductors to the architecture of high-load information systems, these elements and principles help us cope with the complexity of modern business problems. I have deep experience in building distributed web services in -NET and broad knowledge in other tech areas.

As a member of the Firely Server team my responsibilities include technical backlog refinement, designing architecture, coding, performing code review for my colleagues, and tech support for our customers.

Rich Almeida, Technical Consultant, USA 

After completing my BS In Computer Information System – with the focus on forensics – I had a short stint in law enforcement before joining an EHR vendor as a manager, over-seeing their SQL database developer and quality management teams. After eight years there, I moved from Boston to Florida for the weather and switched jobs, rising through the ranks from developer to Director of Technology.  

I’ve always been interested in healthcare data, and its potential to improve patient outcomes, so I’d been keeping an eye on the FHIR space.

I watched some of Firely’s presentations, and reached out to Firely when the company was considering Firely Server for its quality measurement product.

Around a year later I was looking for a change of pace and keen to work on more interesting technology. My introduction to Firely had really stuck with me: I liked their approach, and the fact they were one of the initiators of FHIR. Joining them was my chance to participate in the future of healthcare interoperability.

I got my wish, and was immediately impressed by the quality, intelligence, and cohesiveness of our staff. We have a really great team culture here. Everyone is really helpful, genuinely wants others to succeed, celebrates wins together, and leaves any politics and ego at the door. When something needs to change, we simply reflect on the problem, make the adjustments, and move on.

“There’s no shortage of brilliant people at Firely. I go to work every day with the confidence that any challenges that come our way will be met successfully by someone in the team. Not just in technology, but throughout the business.”

Rich Almeida, Technical Consultant

Ward Weistra, Product Manager and FHIR DevDays content lead, Utrecht

I was trained as a Biologist (BSc), adding Computer Science courses along the way, and eventually finding my way into Theoretical Biology and Bioinformatics. My MSc is officially in Molecular and Cellular Life Sciences, but in practice I graduated as a computer biologist and bio-informaticist.

After a few months travelling around Asia, I came back to Utrecht and bumped into the founder of a small start-up in the University business incubator. I started with them the very next week. I was hired as a junior programmer, but quickly took on the ‘talking’ roles such as project manager, consultant, product manager, and data engineer, working with pharmaceutical companies and research institutes all over the world – including a year living in Boston – to help them use open source software to standardize their data.

In 2018, I noticed the growth in the FHIR ecosystem and decided I wanted to be part of it. I attended an HL7 Netherlands conference and met one of the Firely founders. When I reached out to them a little later, they’d just started looking for a product manager for their data modelling tools, so it was perfect timing.

I love the experience, skill, and enthusiasm of my colleagues, and the freedom of working from home, flexible hours, and spending time on what I think is important. But we also have a great office near Amsterdam Central station, and I love hanging out there too, especially when I’m getting the lowdown on FHIR from our Technical Director, or a deep dive into HL7 standards from our Training Product Manager.

At Firely, we roll up our sleeves when we need to, but we also know how to socialize and build the vital connections within the team. I’m especially proud of the work we do with DevDays – which of course is also enormous fun.”

Ward Weistra, Product Manager

Firely is a start-up with leaders and colleagues who’ve worked together for more than 20 years, which makes it quite unusual. There’s a lot of mutual respect and long-term trust bonds. And the company style strikes a nice balance between being ambitious and demanding, and supportive and understanding.

Get involved in the future of healthcare interoperability 

We hope this article has given you a good snapshot of the people and the culture at Firely. Maybe it will inspire you to work here…

As well as developers and technical consultants in the FHIR community, we’re delighted to hear from anyone who wants to work in an exciting field, with supportive colleagues, and a flexible working culture.

If Firely sounds like the right place for you, head over to our jobs page to see our current vacancies or make an open application.

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