Get to know Wheel Communications Director, Allison Hoffman!
What’s your role at Wheel?
I lead the communications team at Wheel and we're responsible for telling the story of our company — who we are, what we do, and why it matters. And we tell the story of Wheel by working with reporters to write stories about Wheel, or writing our own stories and sharing them on our own channels.
While this may be a trope, every day at Wheel truly does look different! On one day I'm working with my team preparing for a company announcement — which can include developing our overall narrative, writing a press release or blog post, prepping our CEO Michelle to speak with a reporter, or developing our supporting social media strategy. On another day, I'm looking through the results of our latest clinician survey to see if any trends or insights jump out that we could work into our existing storytelling. Or I'm working with the leadership team on how to best share an exciting company update with Wheel employees at an upcoming All Hands. There is no lack of variety here at Wheel!
What’s your professional story?
In high school, I joined the school newspaper and fell in love — not only with writing and journalism but also with the opportunity to be part of a small and scrappy newsroom team. I did the same in college, and paired with a political science degree, I was on track to become a professional reporter! Then the Great Recession hit, and I thought it was worth my while to expand my horizons.
Long story short, I decided to jump to the other side of the aisle and give communications a try. So instead of writing stories for a newspaper, I would be pitching stories on behalf of a company for reporters to write in the paper.
I landed my first full-time job at a public affairs and crisis communications agency.
Now *that* was a whirlwind, and I gained a lot of first-hand experience in how to manage sensitive and high-profile issues.
After living in San Francisco for a few years, I felt the pull to give tech a try. I spent the next several years of my career working at companies like Facebook and Glassdoor, developing and executing communication strategies focused on their products.
But something was missing, and I recognized that I wasn't feeling fulfilled. Then I got an email from a recruiter at Nurx — a telemedicine company focused on expanding access to sexual health needs. The idea of getting birth control from an app sounded new and intriguing and strongly connected to my interests in politics and expanding access to reproductive care. So I jumped at the opportunity, even though I had never imagined working for a healthcare company.
This was 2018, a time that felt really exciting in the telehealth space. Even though the technology had been around for a while, companies like Nurx were thinking of ways to leverage telehealth to solve some of the most stubborn healthcare access problems for low acuity care. And I became completely fascinated by the doctors and nurses who were so passionate about working in telehealth. This was pre-COVID so the idea of working in telehealth wasn't nearly as widespread as today. I would describe myself as an insatiably curious person, and I loved learning something new about the way healthcare works. So even though my interest in politics brought me to healthcare, I ended up becoming just as fascinated by our healthcare system.
Why did you join Wheel?
I joined Wheel two years ago when we were a small, Series A startup. We were around 30 people, and I was one of the few employees based outside of Austin. Now we're close to 200 with a mostly remote team!
What initially drew me to Wheel was the problem the team was solving. After seeing a telehealth company from the inside out for a few years, I knew the challenges Wheel addressed were getting in the way of some of the biggest and most innovative digital health companies out there. I recognized that Wheel had a massive potential to help move the entire industry forward.
And as the person telling the story of the company, I was instantly drawn to Michelle and her reasons for founding Wheel. She has very compelling personal and professional experiences that led her to the "lightbulb" moment. As I met more of the team, I gravitated towards their own reasons for jumping on the Wheel bandwagon.
I could tell this small but mighty team was building something very special.
Two years later, my role looks very different. I was initially hired to build the communications from the ground up, and it's been rewarding to look back and see how much progress and impact we've been able to drive in such a short amount of time. Now we're a small and mighty team of our own, and I have the space to think more long-term about how we can continue to grow our brand and overall awareness in the market.
What’s your favorite Wheel moment?
It's nearly impossible to pick one moment, but an experience that will always stand out to me was when I worked with Fast Company on a story about how the pandemic was transforming primary care. This was in early 2021, so there were still a lot of questions around whether virtual care was here to stay. The reporter wanted to speak to a handful of clinicians who had transitioned from in-person to virtual care and whether they planned to go back to fully in-person care once the pandemic was "over."
I felt incredibly lucky to be sitting in those interviews listening to Wheel clinicians share their heartbreaking experiences working on the front lines of the pandemic. They talked about how working for a company like Wheel allowed them to spend more time with their families, tackle the anxiety of contracting COVID, and reaching patients they normally wouldn't have been able to treat. I've sat in countless press interviews and rarely seen a reporter respond that strongly.
I feel incredibly grateful and privileged to be part of the team drawing awareness to the clinician experience in healthcare.
What does the future of healthcare look like?
I'm pretty bullish on the future of healthcare. Back in 2018, it felt like we had reached a tipping point in the health tech industry, and little did we know the pandemic was just around the corner. While it was incredibly discouraging and disheartening to watch our system crumble under the weight of a public health emergency, I was also motivated by companies like Wheel that stepped in and stood up to the challenge. I can't wait to look back five, ten, or fifteen years from now and see how much progress we'll have made since.
I'm honestly fascinated by all facets of virtual care. But as someone who is currently pregnant, it's been really interesting to see the potential of prenatal and postpartum care. I'm a member of Maven, and it's been a super helpful service to help fill in the gaps and address my questions (and anxiety!) between when I see my OBGYN in person. I hope this type of service will become widely available over time and transform the patient experience so it's best suited for each of our personal needs.
Do you have a fun fact?
I'm proud to be part of three generations of women working in healthcare. My grandmother went back to school to become a nurse after having four children, which was such a big deal at the time that she was written up in the local paper! As for my mom, she had me shortly after graduating with her masters in public health and decided to focus on raising me and my two younger brothers. She returned to her career when I was in high school and is now the head of operations for a health system. I'm incredibly grateful to have grown up with these career examples in front of me.
While I never imagined working in healthcare, in a lot of ways it feels like my own path (with several twists and turns along the way) was predestined for me.
Thanks, Allison, for all your hard work with the Wheel Team! We appreciate everything you do.
Interested in joining our team? Check out the latest career opportunities with Wheel!
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