Meet our Data Nerds: CTO Joel Worrall talks the future of healthcare

At New Relic, we eat, breath and sleep data. We believe everyone out there is a data nerd in some capacity—using data to either better their business, self and/or the world. For this reason, we set out to uncover data nerds.


This week we sat down with the CTO at CURE International, Joel Worrall, and got a glimpse into how he and his team leverage data to cure more kids. CURE is a network of charitable hospitals and surgical programs that delivers life-changing medical care to children and families with treatable conditions. Founded in 1998, CURE’s global network of hospitals and programs have seen over 2.4 million patients, performed over 167,000 surgeries, and trained over 7,200 medical professionals. With data like that, he’s got to have some interesting insights to share…

Q: Your data nerd line is: “Data helps us cure more kids.” Can you elaborate on that?

Data is a critical component for any business and for us it is the engine behind making our mission at CURE a reality. In short, data helps us cure more kids in two ways:

  1. Drive advocacy and donations that help pay for treatments
  2. Improve the quality of care we provide

Q: How does your company tackle data organizationally?

Our headquarters technology team is all of four people but our efforts are global—we operate in more than 30 countries worldwide. For a team of our size, the tools we have in place play an essential role in scaling our resources so we can manage more. For example, we have one employee dedicated to data development across all departments. He is looking at everything from the information we mine from our website and patient database to New Relic, Salesforce, and even Hubspot data. All of these tools roll up into our reporting dashboards so we don’t have to have one person assigned to each tool. Rather, we can do more with less because we have the right tools and the right data architecture.

Q: What kind of “aha” moments have you had analyzing your data?

Our system is a blend of various technologies that span across the technology, business, marketing and operations sides of CURE. By collecting, curating and analyzing the data in various ways, we are able to see exactly how users are interacting with our technology and ultimately our mission. We often find ourselves having “aha moments” which ultimately enable us to innovate and create better user experiences for our patients, donors and medical staff.

This often happens as we roll out new features to The real-time analysis tools we have through New Relic and others allow us to quickly understand and improve the effectiveness of features like our real-time “Get Well Messages” to our patients that engage our audience. We want to prioritize and focus on what “works” and data drives those decisions.

Q: How have you used those discoveries to improve your business?

Well, one example is what we’ve done with the CUREkids section of our website. CUREkids allows users to follow a child’s story and track their surgery progress online and in real time. The system is built on PHP, MySQL and WordPress – all monitored by New Relic – and is currently being rebuilt to better optimize the real-time data produced by New Relic Insights. We can now ask questions of our system, see which profiles users are gravitating to, what messages drive users to engage, etc. The results = a more intuitive and delightful experience for site visitors and donors that allows them to make authentic connections with the children they are helping.

Another project we’re currently working on is a new electronic medical record and hospital information system framework called Hospital Run. Built on Node.js and Ember, Hospital Run is our open source, modern software for charitable hospitals in the developing world built to enhance both the business and patient care side of individual hospitals (see GitHub page here). As we roll out the pilot implementations later this year, we hope that having real-time analysis will allow us to not only make better feature decisions but also drive effectiveness in the way we manage operational needs like inventory management in the hospitals.

Q: Looking ahead, how do you see data changing the world?

Data is revolutionizing the healthcare industry as a whole—and this is happening now. At CURE, we’re part of leading the charge in providing quality healthcare in the developing world, and data is at the forefront. By building systems that allow us to share and analyze data better, we think there is a tremendous opportunity to improve care. In a lot of the countries we work in, surgical care is at the bottom of their list but by improving the data systems and operational experience of hospitals we can lift that profile and hopefully set a best practice for a higher standard of care.

What makes you a data nerd? Tell us—just tweet using the #datanerd hashtag. After all, we are all data nerds.

Morgan Flatley is on the customer marketing team at New Relic. Before making the New Relic marketing team her home, she dabbled in PR for startup tech companies. View posts by .

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