Simplifying the lives of doctors and nurses in times of great need

OutSystems Vonage Low-code

Building a medical communication tool with OutSystems

It is safe to say the Coronavirus changed both the world and the work of medical experts in one big blow. Not only does the virus cause a major influx of sick people, it also enforces people to work from home as much as possible to limit the risk of infection. Online communication became the new normal much faster than anyone predicted. For medical consults, this can be a literal lifesaver.

The Vonage component

Primus was the first to discover the huge potential the combination of OutSystems, Vonage and LINKIT is offering. Vonage is a company which offers cloud communication tools for business, very much like Zoom or Microsoft Teams. Last year LINKIT took the so-called Vonage component and integrated it into the OutSystems platform. This means you can now use these components as preprogrammed blocks to integrate them into an OutSystems application. Primus founder Keith Marks explains the appeal: “What made it really interesting for Primus was the fact the Vonage component is HIPAA compliant. A description of the security rules set in the USA for medical communication.”

Founding a company because of OutSystems

When Keith started Primus Development, he did so with the sole purpose of setting up a medical communication tool. “We started off by a really bad six months of developing in C# and .Net. It was a horrible experience. Then I started to look further to Mendix and other low code solutions. When I discovered OutSystems I stopped looking further. It makes it possible to build so much faster and with fewer people. We founded Primus because of OutSystems.”

“Three to ten times cheaper”

“It’s not that OutSystems, Vonage and LINKIT are offering something unique,” he continues. “Almost all leading communication tools like Zoom and Teams are offering a HIPAA compliant version of their tool. What makes it different is mainly the costs. Vonage is working with a different pricing model that bills for users and less on usage. This means it is a factor of three to ten times cheaper than any competitor I found. An ideal solution for two customers we are providing with a special medical communication tool.”

LINKIT’s first Vonage project

For LINKIT the project with Primus is the first one after integrating the Vonage component with OutSystems. Principal William Antunes, from LINKIT’s OutSystems team, has been working on it for the last few months. “We are now very close to the launch of the MVP (Minimal Viable Product). It will work almost the same as Zoom or Teams. You can call, video call, chat, schedule and send files. The main part of the work was to integrate the Vonage component in the existing framework from Primus, but we also improved the component.”

Puzzling with 8 kilobytes pieces

“The biggest challenge was to set up a functionality for file transfers. This component was not yet available. However, they have another API, also HIPAA compliant, which we could use. The only problem with this API is that it can only send signals to participants with a maximum size of 8 kilobytes. Almost nothing. It took some creativity to find a solution. The result is we now break down every file into small pieces, send them through, and put them back together at the receiver. This all goes really fast and the user will not notice it. For us though, it was a complex puzzle to solve.”

Online consulting made possible

For Keith this puzzle was solved for a reason. “Especially the ability to transfer files in a safe way is hugely important for our clients. Most of the communication we are expecting will be between doctors or nurses and patients. However, communication between doctors and other doctors or nurses is also important. When a patient needs to have surgery, it is required for a doctor to give approval to the nurse. However, the doctor is not always at the same physical location. Especially now with the corona pandemic. Our solution makes it possible for a doctor to have a meeting with the nurse, discuss the patient, send patient information back and forward as well as sign off digitally for the operation.”

Lifesaving communication

In Brazil the use case is different. Keith: “Our client there needs a just in time ordering system. They do manufacturing for neurosurgeons. When someone, for example, has a motorcycle crash causing brain damage, it’s possible to cut out a piece of the brain replacing it with an implant. This is done by taking a scan and making a 3d print implant. You can imagine fast and accurate communication is hugely important. With the Vonage component, it’s possible to send a scan, talk about any specifics and sign off digitally in a safe way. Online communication this way can really save lives.”

Now more than ever…

Because both Brazil and the USA have been hit hard by the coronavirus the project got into a whole new dimension. “Every medical facility that acquired a safe communication tool last year is now extremely happy,” Keith emphasizes. “As explained by these two use cases even without corona there is a big market for this kind of tools. Now with corona, everyone wants it. Needs to have it. It is a culture changer, that will affect the way of working for a long time ahead.”

“Wonderful experience”

Having a Dutch company to create a typically American solution worked out really well according to Keith. “It has been wonderful! You speak funny, but the work is really good and efficient. LINKIT gives accurate time reporting, we don’t have to provide specifications in massive details, we were able to speed things up in communications. All remotely. The tool has been developed on time and it looks spectacular!”

Solid backbone system

“In our last demo, we had a setup representing a real case environment with six people communicating with each other successfully. We still have to do a lot of stress testing, but I’m really confident in the result. Also, the Vonage component is doing really well. Of course, interference sometimes happens, because of lack of bandwidth, but the quality of both sound and video so far has been outstanding. It seems to me the Vonage component runs on a solid backbone system.”

Ready to launch!

“When the solution set is ready we will start to commercialize it,” Keith finishes. “To do this we developed a website to promote and offer the product. Our competitive advantage is within the product as a low cost, 256 AES high encryption, Video Streaming product which can be tailored for specific usage in Healthcare, Legal, Manufacturing, and more.”