Mini Interview with Anatoly Postilnik
Our mission at First Line Software is to work proactively and collaboratively with our customers - leading academic medical centers, healthcare software vendors, and clinical research organizations on initiatives that enhance and expand different forms of care delivery. Our recent work includes multiple large scale data transformation projects with world-class healthcare institutions, innovative development of clinical research accelerators, and developing a software suite to aid in efforts to stop the spread for COVID-19. Let us introduce the person who drives First Line Software's healthcare practice into the future. So meet Anatoly Postilnik, the head of our Healthcare IT practice.
How long have you been working in IT? Why did you choose this industry?
I came to IT naturally. Initially, I was educated as a structural engineer with a specialization in structural calculations. I was involved in the analysis and automated calculation of buildings by numerical methods. I started writing software for that, as well as for visualization of the results. Then, I got a second degree in applied mathematics and computer science.
How long have I been working in this field… I dread to think :), since the mid-80s.
Now you are the Head of the Healthcare Practice at First Line Software. Could you tell us what seems to be the most interesting in your work?
The most attractive thing about my work is that we help treat people and save lives. We can’t see it, but thousands of doctors, nurses, and patients use our systems. The results of our work are available to users in a few days or weeks. While in other industries, such as in the automotive or construction industries, it can take months or years to develop and deliver the final product.
Right now, medicine and medical sciences are experiencing a technological revolution. We are in the middle of this revolution – even on the cutting edge. We have the opportunity to work with the most innovative organizations and people in the United States and around the world.
There’s another feature of the practice. Yes, we provide developers to our clients and provide added bandwidth to their teams. However, we are also focused on solving specific problems that our clients face. This requires special knowledge, the development of specialized methodologies, and the organization of new processes. Many engineers in teams working on healthcare projects have learned to understand not only technology but also the scientific side of medicine and the business needs. This unique skill set of our engineering teams, allows us to serve our customers in a wholistic way that our competitors can’t. We are proud to be well-known and have a good reputation in Healthcare IT.
In recent years, First Line Software has been actively developing projects in the field of healthcare. What is FLS working on now? Share your thoughts on the further development of the company in this direction.
Until recently, we have been developing and integrating patient treatment systems. In Russia, it is called a Medical Information System or an electronic patient card system. Most hospitals and medical practices worldwide use ready-made solutions from product companies, and the market is crowded. Now we are focused on analyzing and improving the quality of processes and medical data, machine learning and artificial intelligence, automating decision-making processes, and supporting clinical research in various forms, from data extraction to application development for doctors, patients, and scientists.
We keep developing new patient treatment apps for startups, product companies, research organizations, and pharmaceutical companies.
What role does time management play in your work? Do you have your own methods of planning and arranging working hours?
Due to the time difference, I divide the day into two parts. In the morning, I work with the developers’ teams and our employees in Europe. When evening comes, I meet with American clients and partners. Since I work on many projects at once, I build a prioritized backlog, which I check and update every evening. In the evening, I also make lists of tasks and questions for project managers in our teams so that they can look at them and get ready for our morning meetings.
Unfortunately, this scheme collapses when you need to communicate with Australia (which is 14 hours ahead), as well as with the west coast of the USA (which is 3 hours behind). In any case, the working day turns out to be very long. To relax, I take a break and do exercises from YouTube videos for 30 minutes. When everything gets boring, I go to play pickleball for a couple of hours. 🙂
It’s hard to imagine how much time this responsible job takes. What about hobbies? What do you like to do in your spare time?
Work entertains me well, and I can’t get bored with our champions. I love being outdoors. I fish, pick mushrooms, ride a bike, do mountain hiking, and play pickleball in summer. In winter, I go cross-country and downhill skiing. When the weather is bad, I play banjo or ukulele and play pickleball. I am also fond of photography and cooking (mainly for my friends and neighbors).
If you were on a deserted island and could take only one book with you, what kind of book would it be?
This is a tricky question. It is assumed that I could re-read this book many times, and I don’t really like this process. The books I often think about and want to return to are “Sapiens” by Yuval Harari and “A Short History of Nearly Everything” by Bill Bryson. Twenty years ago, the last one probably would have been a textbook on functional analysis :).
Anatoly, what advice can you give to novice managers who dream of working in the IT-sphere?
Many people forget that IT is not an end in itself. It is aimed at solving the problems of life and business. For example, when developing medical systems, we must remember that patients, doctors, and many other users are behind these solutions. Understanding the business processes and problems that need to be solved is the way to success.
What phrase do you consider your motto in life?
“Creativity is the main trait that sets humans apart from animals. We must stay creative to remain humans”
“Keep calm and carry on” (Winston Churchill)