As a patient, when health issues start cropping up, you sit up and take notice. You get proactive about researching, tracking and managing progress. Questions such as how can I access test results faster without waiting for a call from my doctor? Is there a way to track all my medications and impact? Can I access my medical history, schedule appointment and communicate with my physicians in one spot via my mobile?
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From Web to Mobile App Development
With healthcare providers facing regulatory changes, rising costs, and patients and clinicians looking to access information on the go, Harris needed to evolve their FusionFX patient and provider portals by offering mobile versions to enable mobile working in clinics, patient access to medical information, and better communication with their care teams. At the onset of the project, the engineering team looked to Macadamian to develop a mobile patient engagement application for iOS and Android that could be customized or white-labelled by Healthcare providers.
Making the Right Technology Choice: Native versus Web
Harris Healthcare Solutions was looking to develop a mobile solution for its customers and wanted to find the right partner to help develop innovative applications. Harris Healthcare turned to Macadamian, a leading mobile technology provider.
The existing patient portal web application was integrated with a REST API architecture on the backend. The backend REST API servers not only housed and provided access to the application data but also provided the required authentication and security. Any mobile solution would need to be able to integrate with this existing back end architecture.
The challenge was to figure out how to best translate the web-based experience to a responsive mobile-first framework while meeting privacy, security, and Meaningful Use requirements, and providing flexibility to support a modern user interface (UI). The team had the following technology options:
- Option 1. Implement a full native application in Objective-C for iOS and Java for Android to provide the optimal user experience and responsiveness. The downside with this option was it did not allow for any client-side code sharing between the two platforms and would require significantly more effort to develop and maintain, and would require more effort to enable brand customization.
- Option 2. Develop an HTML based mobile app using PhoneGap. After some quick prototyping it turned out that issues with screen readers would make accessibility compliance more difficult.
- Option 3. Build a hosted mobile web app that users could access from a mobile browser. The downside of this option was that it would be harder for users to discover and would have limited platform integration.
Increasing Patient Engagement
The result was a set of mobile patient portal applications for iPad and Android-based tablets aimed at increasing patient retention with a range of functionality that includes: a patient dashboard (My Health Summary, Allergies, Medications, Immunizations), secure patient-health provider messaging, calendar (Appointment Scheduler, Hospitalization and Visits), attachments (Lab test Results), and access to educational health information. Both mobile apps were tightly integrated with the Harris Fusionfx backend server in addition to providing customers the ability to customize the brand look and feel of the mobile application.
Together with Macadamian, Harris was able to enable customer Advocate Healthcare to be the first to launch the new Fusionfx mobile patient portal in the spring of 2015.