Yixian Su ’16, Prescription Advisory Systems and Technology

John-SuI was actually able to sample a small taste of my Princeternship experience before its scheduled dates. The other Princetern, Phoebe Tran ’16, and I met up with Joe Studholme ’84, our host, one week before our start date for an hour or so worth of orientation at his startup, P.A.S.T. During that time, we learned about the company’s mission as well Joe’s background and experience. P.A.S.T is a startup aimed at developing technology in conjunction with Prescription Monitoring Programs in order for physicians and pharmacists to better serve their patients and customers. The startup aims to use their technology to ensure that doctors can be confident that the right consumers are using prescribed medicine, thus combatting the high annul rate of deaths due to mis-prescription and prescription abuse.

Day 1:
After arriving at around 10 am, we were given a tour of the various office spaces at P.A.S.T and met the key figures of the startup. Then, we listened to a powerpoint presentation in the conference room about Prescription Monitoring Programs (PMPs) and their implications in each of the 50 states. From there, we were assigned our first task as research analysts: to process various types of data on all the states and then rank the states by the feasibility of success of P.A.S.T’s prescription monitoring software based a key report from the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA). Phoebe and I split up the work by dividing our research to focus on 25 states each, as we created various excel tables that documented, and in a sense quantified, the categorical data in the DEA report on PMPs. By the end of the day, after coming up with a methodology of ranking the states, we color coded and labeled a map in the office into 5 tiers, and we summarized our research process and findings in a report that was later forwarded to the rest of the company for reference.

Day 2:
Our research today expanded on the concept of ranking states that would be favorable for P.A.S.T’s technology to develop in. In addition to considering implications from the DEA report, today’s research focused on quantifying data from state laws and statutes on the sharing of the Prescription Monitoring Program with outside parties for research and statistical purposes. We developed an algorithm in excel for taking into account how a state’s population — its number of prescribers, consumers, pharmacies, etc. — would play into its final ranking. Like Day 1, we went HAM on our research and despite staying at the office until 7 pm, we were happy with our process and were able to produce significant results which we put into another research report that was forwarded to the CEO and our host, Joe Studholme, of which he later forwarded to the rest of the company.

Day 3:
Today was a more lax day at the office. Rather than prying various sources for research, we went over and refined our past findings from the first two days of our Princeternship. This was so that we could be better prepared for our presentation to the company later in the afternoon. Shortly after lunch, we all gathered in the conference room and had others who were not present at the office call in and listen in on our presentation of our findings. After a 30-minute presentation, we called it a day, took some pictures with Joe in the office, and walked over to Triumph for some late afternoon appetizers while watching some March Madness on television. We chatted with our host Joe, and a few other key people in his company — his legal consultant Ahmet and his marketing expert Steve — about their college and life experiences. After a few hours of long stories, life lessons, and laughs, accompanied with helpings of cherry grove cheese plates, crab dip, and calamari, we all parted our ways — a bittersweet, yet fulfilling end to these P.A.S.T 3 days at this awesome Princeternship.

The types of actives we were engaged in at this Princeternship exceeded my expectations in a good way. We were given time engaging in the presentations and shadowing the routines of the key people at this startup, but we were also able to work on a research project that the company can really make use of even after we left. I don’t think Phoebe, Joe or I and the others at P.A.S.T would have thought that we were able to crank out so much significant research in just the few days we were there. Since Joe had already seen enormous success with his previous company that he had started from scratch and later sold for more than $15 million, the work environment at P.A.S.T was most likely more upscale than the classic startup atmosphere, which was very nice. Everyone was extremely friendly and helpful, and there was a little kitchen stocked with Chips Ahoy, Oreos, Fig Newtons, ramen, juice, soda, and water for our consumption.

Since we were at at startup, this experience was a great Su 1opportunity for us Princeterns to really engage ourselves with not only the CEO, Joe, but a range of professionals crucial to a successful company; this included the legal consultant and lawyer in the house, Ahmet; the marketing and public relations key person, Steve; the office manager, Traci, and the business manager, Sue. This experience was a great time for me to see a company at the intersection of medicine, technology, and business — three of my top interests. Though you can’t get a feel of the long term work that such a startup does, you can, in these few days of a Princeternship, get a feel for what the work environment at such a company is like — the workplace, the team chemistry, the overall atmosphere.

I benefitted from this Princeternship by applying some of the aspects I learned about statistical analysis from my Statistics for Engineers ORF 245 class which I took in the fall and applied it to a real life scenario. Moreover, the experience really gave me an inside look at how a company is run and the various facets needed for a successful company to survive and prosper. Though the work I did these days was insightful and rewarding, I would have to say that the most valuable part of this experience was when Joe and his key partners took us out to eat at Triumph, just a few steps away from the office. It was during this time that they shared their college experiences, and it was really fascinating since most of them were Princeton alumni. We also talked about the various career paths and life experiences they’ve come across, and it was just a really amazing time for me to interact with such accomplished and influential, yet down to earth people. That said, I strongly recommend the Princeternship Program to other students! Thank you to all the people at P.A.S.T, the Princeternship Program, and Career Services for making this one segment of my Spring Break memorable and rewarding!