December 11, 2019

Tech Insights from One of Baltimore’s Best

Dan Dutrow, Protenus

Who We Are

I don't like to brag and I don't like to boast, but speaking of toast, and speaking of kitchens and ketchup and cake and kettles and stoves and the stuff people bake ... well, I don't like to brag, but I'm telling you, Liz, that speaking of cooks, I'm the best that there is!

- Peter T. Hooper, Scrambled Eggs Super

Who We Are

Baltimore is a hotbed for healthcare and cyber security and has provided a fertile ground for startups. Protenus is at the center of this upspring, applying Artificial Intelligence (AI) to solve critical healthcare compliance challenges that plague our industry. In this first blog post here on Medium, I’d like to share with you why I’m so passionate about what we’re creating here.

The first question you might have is how to pronounce Protenus and what it means. I usually tell people it’s “Pro Tennis, like Serena Williams,” and it’s a latin term that means “straight on and immediately forward.” Since Nick Culbertson and Robert Lord started Protenus in 2014, we’ve been making immediate forward progress in our mission to "build scalable, insightful solutions that reduce risk, improve operational efficiencies, and ultimately build trust & assurance in healthcare.” We’re proud that we’ve made such great progress and have been recognized in the industry for our excellence, innovativeness, and company culture.

The second question I get is what we build and how we do it. This Medium blog is our chance to answer that question. We value inclusiveness and collaboration, both on our team and in how our team interacts with the rest of the community. We’ll be publishing some of our thoughts here as a way to give back to the community and live out those values.  Our hope is that our tech blog will highlight some of the areas that Protenus does best including our engineering culture, scalable infrastructure, software development practices, advanced analytics, and beyond. We can’t wait to see what you think. If you have found yourself wanting to learn more about Protenus, but the technical details are not your thing, check out our company blog at https://blog.protenus.com/ 

Team

Before we get into the tech, I have to acknowledge that the team we have assembled is really the key to our success. Protenus team members come from diverse backgrounds, many with advanced degrees in a variety of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics fields. Our team has some of the strongest software developers you’ll find anywhere and have received special recognition in Baltimore. From PhD data scientists to open source contributors to former experts at 3-letter agencies, research labs, industry giants, and hospitals, not only is this team smart, but they’re awesome to work with. Each of them have found that Protenus is an ideal place to grow their knowledge, skills, and careers. 

Tech Stack

On this blog, we’ll explain our tech stack and how we’ve leveraged leading technologies to their fullest. If you’re interested in how a leading healthcare analytics company creates a secure and compliant application using Scala, Akka, Spark, MongoDB, React, Amazon Web Services, and Terraform, you’ve come to the right place. You may find a similar stack within many software products at other leading companies, but how we perfect our use of them is what makes our platform so robust and successful.

Software Dev

Our language of choice is Scala, a powerful programming language that is interoperable with Java, but provides concise representation with the advantages of both functional and object oriented programming. Our beautiful User Interface (UI) is built in React with a Spring Boot back-end. How do we create high quality software with lean yet effective processes? Details about our software development life cycle are coming soon!

Big Data

Health data is large and complex and sometimes we need to bring out the big guns to wrangle it. We build our data processing and analytics applications with Scala using both the Akka and Spark frameworks as the backbone of our platform. We use a replicated MongoDB cluster as the common database for our data processing, analytics, and UI applications. We leverage Avro for large binary files while ensuring reliability and scalability with Amazon S3. Insights into each of these technologies and how we use them will be sprinkled through our blogs over the next few months.

Infrastructure as Code

We host our infrastructure on Amazon Web Services (AWS) using their certified security services to ensure HIPAA compliance. AWS provides a variety of compliant technologies like Elastic Container Service (ECS), Elastic Compute Cloud (EC2), and Simple Storage Service (S3) that make our systems scalable and secure. We orchestrate it all in code with Terraform to simplify the provisioning and management of our cloud infrastructure. Our team comes with tons of industry knowledge on how to build systems to scale; you’ll hear more about that in February.

Advanced Analytics

Last but not least, our team is known as pioneers of machine learning and AI in healthcare compliance analytics. We’ll round out the first half of the year with a series of articles you won’t want to miss about advanced analytics built specifically to protect patient privacy. 

Stay Tuned

We would also love to hear from you, whether you are a technical expert or totally new to the world of software. Leave a comment with your reflections and thoughts. Humbly, we know there is always more to learn and new perspectives to consider.

Follow me on LinkedIn @www.linkedin.com/in/dutrow/