Spotlight Interview with Dr. Yarden Ariely, MD

By Ben Gross

The Medical team at Nym form the core of what sets Nym apart, ensuring that every chart coded by the Nym engine reflects the physician's experience during the patient encounter. We took a moment to speak with Dr. Yarden Ariely, MD, one of the Product Owners at Nym

A medical doctor, Yarden served in unit 8200 of the Israeli Intelligence Corps in various positions and has extensive work experience in the world of high-tech. With previous experience at Viber and Rakuten, Yarden started out as an MD in Nym's R&D department, and was recently named as Nym's latest Product Owner, bringing her vast wealth of both medical and product experience to the forefront of her role.

Describe Nym:

Yarden: Nym is a place with great people, fun people, an amazing vision. It’s also a place where the smartest people I’ve met get together and we make magic happen. Nym is literally a place where dreams come true, since I’ve dreamt about this technology before I even realized that people were working on it. When I was in hospitals, I needed this tech, and it’s great to be a part of the solution.

What does a doctor do at Nym?

Yarden: As part of the engine squad (a squad at Nym is a multidisciplinary team that includes linguists, computational linguists, developers and medical doctors), my role as a doctor is to enrich the clinical understanding of the engine, research clinical data and guidelines, and guide the implementation of clinical features.

How do you make the MD role at Nym your own?

Yarden: As a medical doctor and as a product manager, I combine my medical expertise and knowledge in order to help the engine reach a higher level of clinical understanding. My background is an amazing advantage at helping the entire engine understand not just what happened during the patient encounter described in the chart, but also what the treating MD was thinking and experiencing during the encounter. 

What’s your favorite part about the position? And the most challenging part?

Yarden: Working with the smartest people I know. Working in a multidisciplinary team requires wide knowledge in a variety of fields. It’s challenging, but it’s also my favourite part because it allows me to keep evolving as a hi-tech doctor and I get to learn things I wouldn't have otherwise been exposed to, such as learning how to code in Python, complex data analytics and a profound technical understanding of our algorithm.

What were you doing before Nym?

Yarden: I studied medicine for 6 years at Tel Aviv University, and then worked as a resident at Wolfson hospital for another year. Simultaneously, as an alumni of the IDF’s 8200 unit, after my service as an intelligence analyst, I joined the hi-tech industry and worked in a company named Viber that was later acquired by a Japanese corporation named Rakuten. When I was at Viber I started in technical support and advanced to the product team as an account manager for global brands.

What attracted you to Nym? How did you come to start working at Nym?

Yarden: I was always fascinated with language and medicine, and Nym is a perfect crossroads of both these interests. I was also attracted by my personal clinical need as a doctor. 

Why did you become a doctor?

Yarden: I was always fascinated by the human body, especially when something about it is not working right. As a child I always read the CMI leaflet of any medication I could find, so medical school was a natural choice for me. During my military service, I was exposed to the world of advanced technology, which was a significant step away from the world of medicine, but once I was discharged and completed my service, I knew that I would always return to the world of medicine.

What are some of the biggest challenges you face day-to-day?

Yarden: As I step more and more into my latest role as a product manager, I find that no matter how much experience I bring to the position, there is always so much more to learn. The balance between being an MD coming from the world of R&D and stepping into the product world creates a feedback loop which requires that I take my strengths from each position and use it to bolster the other areas in order to create a whole which is larger than the sum of its parts. 

What are you currently working on at Nym?

Yarden: A feature called “provider attribution”, which allows us to understand what each person involved with the treatment outlined in the medical chart did, from a medical coding perspective. This allows us to find coding errors, from a CDI perspective, as well as better determine how fees are paid out on the professional aspect. In other words, who did what in each case, and how much should they then be paid for what they did. 

What is the culture at Nym like?

Yarden: There’s a culture of Knowledge. Trying to understand more, delve deeper into things not directly involved with what you’re working on. People cross-training into other areas, helping shine a new light on new areas. I don’t see the traditional lines between management and employees, there is always open conversation and discussion. 

What would you say is the coolest thing to have happened at Nym?

Yarden: HackathoNym 2021. I was on the planning committee, so I was able to take my vision and turn it into reality. I also really love the innovation and excitement present at hackathons, as well as the competitiveness, striving to be the best and come up with something amazing in a short period of time. 

If you weren’t at Nym, what would you be doing?

Yarden: I’d love to work at NASA. That’s been one of my dreams, and if I didn’t find the passion that I found here at Nym, that’s where I’d want to be. Maybe one day I’ll make it happen, when I’m done with this adventure.

What surprised you the most about the work being done at Nym?

Yarden: I remember that what really surprised me when I began working at Nym was the amount of variability found in free text, and even more than that, the way Nym actually found a way to deal with all that variability and still come up with coherent answers. Free text is a near-infinite world, and it’s amazing how you can use so many different words or expressions to convey the same meaning or message. Even in the highly regimented world of medical language, the variables are immense, and being able to not only read what is being written, but understand it, and then use that to understand the core underlying principles or actions which led to what was written in the chart, is a feat which I at first was astounded by, but then came to realize that is only the beginning of what Nym’s engine can actually do. 

What advice or helpful information would you like to leave our readers with? 

Yarden: Always work from a place of passion. It’s something I always tell people who talk about their jobs with me, or people who are at the beginning of their career paths. Do things you are passionate about, and not because “it’s what’s done” or because that’s the path laid down for you. I speak from the perspective of a doctor now working in high-tech, it’s clearly not the traditional path most doctors take, but I can honestly say that working at Nym is one of the best decisions I made. 

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