Why We Developed a COVID-19 Software Solution: Steve Herr, CEO of Advanced Metrics, Shares Reflections

EVEN WITH A COVID-19 VACCINE IN SIGHT, we are a world rapidly changing.  For this reason, Advanced Metrics has developed an innovative yet easy to use QUALO Healthy Pathways: COVID Edition software solution to help communities find a more secure sense of normalcy when so much uncertainty is flooding their daily routine.

Steve Herr, PhD.
President and CEO of Advanced Metrics

ADVANCED METRIC’S ROOTS, are embedded in the University of Maryland’s School of Medicine.  As such, we have fostered lasting relationships with academicians and this foundation explains not only where we came from but who we are today, and why we developed a viable solution to address a part of this significant world health crisis. In April 2020, when the COVID-19 rates were rapidly increasing, a faculty-member colleague of ours at the University of Maryland reached out to us; she is also a practitioner in the Occupational Medicine Department. She was completely overwhelmed with the daunting responsibility of keeping a massive workforce safe, while facing daily challenges without data-informed decision-support tools. Professionals in all fields and industries were being forced to make unique choices in a frantic atmosphere of anxiety and panic. Amid all that uncertainty, reliable decisions still needed to be sound. COVID-19 has forever changed our world. We built QUALO Healthy Pathways: COVID Edition software with the idea that our systems, such as health, education and justice, must never be left to flounder in response to anything such as a respiratory threat.

WE AT ADVANCED METRICS BELIEVE it is essential to have a “lab” project – something that challenges us, stretches us, makes us think distinctively;  something new, innovative and which allows us to stimulate ourselves and yet stay relevant and focused. In the Spring and Summer of 2020, we brainstormed intentional decisions to commit to a deep dive into all the requirements needed for a software to address workforce and education challenges.   Our affiliation with experts has grown in order to understand how to more efficiently support our struggling University of Maryland colleague and those she represented. In the process, we explored everything from interviewing faculty members in epidemiology, artificial intelligence and cyber security professionals to large-scale human resource teams and educators. We identified the most critical components of this platform and those who could provide real-world intel to build it for the largest group in need.

Scientific Advisors & Champions   

ANY MEANINGFUL RELATIONSHIP requires time to develop communication channels, respect, and empathy for the challenges each member of that team is experiencing. Our connection to the University of Maryland and our colleagues there linked us with front line professionals working in this field during this pandemic day in and day out. Referrals from existing relationships were also a critical component to the success of identifying champions and advisors, who were motivated to want to assist us because they knew it would help them when the software went live.  Our team of Scientific Advisors, motivated by altruistic and humanitarian values, were driven by a deep sense of empathy for our shared human experience.

An initial stroke of luck was the good fortune to discover our Lead Scientific Advisor and Champion, Dr. Michael Levine, a Board Member of the American College of Occupational and Environmental Medicine. His gracious thoughtfulness and engaging manner made our team enthusiastic partners, feeling truly invested while learning alongside him. His soft-spoken and humorous leadership was an important asset in articulating the challenges encountered by his occupational medicine experience. This has been critical to the technical development of this QUALO Healthy Pathways: COVID Edition software solution.

Leading a tech firm during a time of international crisis

LIKE EVERYONE ELSE, we had a steep learning curve as we worked remotely, and while having the entire day be virtual for innovation and collaboration. Those first few months were exhausting for not only me but the entire team.  By ending a full day of meetings via video every single day, it encouraged us to be mindful and intentionally introspective about this new routine, to not take things for granted. Our hiring practices had to be adjusted almost overnight.  We have hired people on our team that none of us have even met in person. Attempting to be the leading-edge of change during a pandemic can provoke stress and anxiety, and we needed to acknowledge and recognize that so that it would not destroy us. Our team culture has proudly allowed for our staff to embrace this opportunity. As a result, we whole-heartedly believe in our QUALO Healthy Pathways: COVID Edition software solution platform because it is easy to implement and use and will bridge that gap between using something new and the stress of current demands.

Team

BIAS ASIDE, Advanced Metrics truly has an exceptionally talented multi-disciplinary team that has proven itself to be highly effective with the full lifecycle of software development. It was never about whether we had the right team, it was how do we take on this new opportunity on top of all the other things we were already doing? The team never had a doubt that we would be successful in delivering an innovative contact tracking software.  To accomplish this, we intentionally isolated specific team members from their standing workload to focus on this project.  Other times there was an all hands-on-deck approach. The work we have been doing in the other parts of our company around technical infrastructure, business operations and team culture allowed us to be extremely efficient with resource allocation. We focused more on identifying the right partners and subject matter experts to inform our technical development of an innovative software solution.

AT ADVANCED METRICS, we have been successful at being able to sustain our business model and continue to thrive amid a pandemic. We positioned ourselves in a way to step back and understand what less fortunate companies were going through. We shared a deep sense of urgency to address the panic, manage the fear, and triage the anxiety that was plaguing us each day.  As we write this, we are about to enter an even more intense wave of the pandemic than we have had to date. When things seemingly waned, our citizens relaxed, but we know now, it was too soon. I could not be prouder and more satisfied with the way my team has performed and stepped up, prepared to support the issues our communities are facing. They have worked through their individual challenges, and continually focused on team dynamics and culture around coordination and collaboration and innovation. The open communication style amongst this team has been a treasured gift, allowing everyone to focus on the development of our contact tracking software solution and those we serve as our valued customers.  Despite the uncertain world we live in, it’s been a wonderful experience to be a part of this. I hope this software solution adds a sense of peace to the chaos we are all experiencing. I am not naïve to think it will eliminate it all, and we surely can’t solve all the world’s problems, but I would like it to help organizations and schools feel more in control in a time when so  many people feel out of control, because of the ever pervasive uncertainty.   

Advanced Metrics is a Certified B-Corporation dedicated to improving lives by uniting community-based services with science-informed approaches. Advanced Metrics recently developed  QUALO Healthy Pathways: COVID Edition software to help organizations keep their people healthy and productive during the pandemic.