“Meet Grand Rounds” is a series of interviews introducing some of the people working to make quality health care accessible to everyone, everywhere.
The Data Science team at Grand Rounds builds algorithms that match patients with the most appropriate and skilled physicians for their needs. The team constantly works to better understand patient needs as well as physician skill and expertise using billions of historical clinical interactions. Meet one of our associate data scientists, Tiffany Cheng, in the Q&A below.
What do you do at Grand Rounds?
I’m on the Data Science team, which strives to understand the many players (e.g., patients, physicians, institutions, etc.) in the health care space and how they all impact a patient’s care experience. Our main areas of focus involve modeling patients to understand their needs; physicians to understand clinical expertise, judgment, and skill; and leveraging this data to make the best patient-physician matches from the beginning. In addition, we provide decision-support analysis for other parts of the organization, including product development, sales, marketing, and strategy.
Some exciting projects I’ve recently worked on include: helping create a tool that systematically goes through our clinical interaction datasets to find practice pattern differences between physicians of the same specialty; and exploring how distance traveled by patients vary by geography and specialty.
What inspired you to join Grand Rounds?
After graduating with a degree in Public Health, I expected to spend my early career conducting research at either an academic or a government institution. However, when I first heard about Grand Rounds, the company’s mission to improve patients’ quality of care and outcomes through appropriate patient-physician matching—regardless of geography, socioeconomic status, race, etc.,—deeply resonated with me. In a way, I’m continuing to practice public health by working on a tool that advances the care (and consequently health) of a population of people, as compared to clinical health professions where the focus is on helping individuals with their unique health care issues (though equally as important). Additionally, I was attracted by the opportunity to derive insights from large, real-world datasets and work in a fast-paced environment with a talented team.
What’s been your most memorable/rewarding Grand Rounds moment so far?
Two immediately come to mind. 1) Hearing patient stories and learning first-hand how we can support and advocate for them during their toughest times, by helping them get an accurate diagnosis or alternative (and sometimes less-invasive) treatment options that haven’t been previously considered. I don’t interact with patients in my day-to-day role, so hearing about our work’s impact is not only rewarding and motivating, but also brings the reason I joined the company full circle. 2) Reflecting on how much my analyses and coding skills have developed since I started working here. I’m incredibly grateful for the learning opportunities, guidance, and strong mentorship I’ve received here from my teammates and managers.
How did you get started in your career field?
My foray into health care and biostatistics began with my undergraduate studies. I was absolutely captivated by my first epidemiology and biostatistics classes; to me, epidemiologists were the Sherlock Holmes of health and disease, using their skills and frameworks to improve broad swaths of population health. I was so eager to learn the field’s methods that I exhausted the department’s undergraduate biostatistics classes and spent my senior year largely taking more specialized graduate courses. When I graduated, I knew I wanted to apply my skills and continue to learn in the health care space.
If you could change one thing in U.S. health care, what would it be?
I would make health care affordable and accessible to all. I believe that everyone should have the right to adequate health care, and that people shouldn’t be going broke trying to pay their medical bills, foregoing care because it’s too expensive, or waiting until their health issues escalate to dangerous and complicated levels to seek care. Other developed countries, which have created health care systems towards this goal, have accomplished better health outcomes, quality of life, and less spending than the U.S. Health and sickness are universal experiences, and I truly hope to see the U.S. make progress on this front in the near future.
What are you most passionate about outside of the office?
I enjoy spending time exploring and exercising outdoors. My favorite activity is hiking, but I also enjoy biking, running, and kayaking. I love the thrill and challenge of an arduous hike, the awe-inspiring views along the way, the satisfaction of summiting a steep mountain, and feeling satisfied, recharged, and peaceful afterward. Many of my weekends and longer travel plans have centered around spending quality time outdoors. Over the past year and a half, I have been lucky to do some incredible hikes in Yosemite, Zion, Bryce Canyon, Mount Rainier National Park, Rocky Mountain National Park, and the fjords of Norway.
If you could have one superpower, what would it be?
I would love to be able to freeze time to give myself (and others who are interested) extra blocks of quiet, personal time. I envision using that time to work on tutorials to learn new skills, pursue beloved hobbies, stay informed, reflect on the happenings of the week, read, or even relax (basically things that often fall by the wayside when we get busy).
Meet more Grand Rounds employees here.