Why I’ve joined firsthand.

I’m excited to share that I’ve joined firsthand, a company changing the way that people in our society with serious mental illness recover and live their best lives. We are creating an in-person, peer-driven model for recovery from serious mental illness.

I’m joining as a data scientist and one of the first employees on the technology side of the organization. I wanted to share a little bit about why I am excited to join firsthand, and why I think it’s one of the best companies to be a part of.

firsthand will help address the SMI crisis.

If you walk the streets of any American urban landscape, you will experience the crisis of serious mental illness amongst members of our society. You can literally see the depth of the issue.

Some statistics:

People with SMI die 10 to 25 years earlier than the general population. Up to half of those with SMI receive no treatment in a given year, despite living with paranoid thinking, an altered reality, or extreme episodes of mania or depression. 350K+ people with SMI are currently unhoused.

This is one of the most pressing, difficult challenges in our society.

firsthand’s peer-driven care model can fundamentally change the way individuals with serious mental illness find and engage with recovery. Furthermore, our efforts come at a unique time in behavioral health. There is finally growing awareness of the tie between medical and behavioral health, which have long been artificially segregated in the American healthcare system. Flexible, outcomes-driven payment models from CMS and other payers are incentivizing helping those most in need.

This opportunity to make a difference is hard to pass up.

Building the data stack at firsthand is exciting.

firsthand is building its data stack at a uniquely exciting time. Changes in modern data tooling to be more flexible, decentralized, and powerful coincide with a national drive to build better-informed, higher-quality value-based healthcare companies (like firsthand). Achieving the latter requires a strong ability to turn data into action, which the former enables.

I’ve spent the past few years in the machine learning world, building models and infrastructure for healthcare use cases. In that time, I realized I was missing core technical and operational principles required to connect data to business value.

Models aren’t the bottleneck to learning from data in healthcare; data itself is. Without understanding how to setup and operate fundamental components of data systems like a data warehouse, I realized I would never be fully in control as I sought to build more advanced, data-intensive systems. As Matt David and David Fowler put it in The Informed Company:

Building and maintaining a robust data analytics stack is the foundation on which effective machine learning workflows are built.

Being a part of the data journey from day 1 at firsthand will expose me to the fundamentals of data engineering and analytics. In the long run, it will allow me to build more sophisticated data-intensive systems and businesses that take advantage of machine learning.

The intellectual diversity of care delivery is rewarding.

There are a lot of software companies out there.

There is something about working at a company that’s fundamentally about people helping people. There’s a tangibility and connection to it that makes it different.

In a healthcare context, there’s something even more rewarding: intellectual diversity. The combination of technical, business, clinical, and operational minds coming together produces incredible learning. It allows the curious mind to experience many different mindsets and perspectives. It challenges one to explain the dogmas of their trade to very different audiences, set to the backdrop of an overwhelmingly important mission: helping individuals live their best, healthiest lives.

I truly enjoy the intellectual diversity of care delivery. If you’re like me and value encountering new, challenging ideas and experiences, there are few places better positioned to achieve that than firsthand.

firsthand is the ideal entrepreneurial playground.

Anyone who knows me knows that I aspire to found and run a sustainable and impactful computational biomedicine business.

One of the best ways to level up on the founder journey is to be a part of a great company solving challenging problems with outstanding people. Paypal comes to mind as an example of this. You can observe and learn from the obstacles that occur along the way, gain a network of peers and mentors, and pick up valuable insights about company building.

firsthand fits this mold to me. The challenge we are tackling, changing the way serious mental illness is handled in the healthcare system, is one of the hardest problems in our society. The team of accomplished, inspiring people, led by Samir Malik and Ananth Lalithakumar, brings deep expertise and skill that I’m excited to tap. More importantly, the diversity of thought and high character every team member brings makes firsthand a great place to learn and experiment with psychological safety.

If you are someone similarly interested in running a values-driven, outcomes-oriented, game-changing healthcare company, I don’t think there are many places that are better to spend time.

Come join us!

I hope this convinced you to at least learn more about what we’re up to.

Maybe it even made you want to join me in this effort. Get in touch! We just went live in our first market and I’d love to tell you all about it.

Email me at vishnu@firsthandcares.com if you want to learn more.

Check out our job board here.

Follow us on LinkedIn for more info as we progress.