Case Study: TEKStack Helps Drive Better Care, Better Outcomes for Cancer Patients
Since 2010, Translucent Computing has helped healthcare providers deliver better care to patients through the creation of custom, cloud-based web and mobile applications. We deliver scalable, affordable solutions in 50-60 percent less time than our competitors.
In 2014, The Hospital for Sick Children’s Dr. Lillian Sung and her research team began working with us to help better identify and track the symptoms of pediatric cancer patients. Since 2012, her team had used a symptom tracking tool called Symptom Screening in Pediatrics Tool (SSpedi), a self-report questionnaire that asked recipients to rate their level of discomfort on 15 items.
SSpedi was paper-based screening tool, but research showed that for the 8 to 18 year olds that SSpedi was designed for, electronic reporting tools had better compliance and recording accuracy. They also made data easier to collect, visualize and analyze.
To take the project digital, Dr. Sung partnered with our team at Translucent Computing. With our track record working with healthcare providers to build web and mobile solutions, we began building a solution in March 2014 utilizing the Translucent TEKStack Platform.
TEKStack Platform is a modular, data driven health application platform built to facilitate the integration of varied data, and deliver content to web and mobile clients using the RESTful API. With proven application generation combined with Elasticsearch and Kibina. TEKStack delivers information to key decision makers and allows out of the box reports and analytics. With this new health platform, we were able to quickly build the web front-end and the RESTful API required for the iPad integration.
The solution consisted of three parts: an iPad app comprised of SSPedi and five other screening tools, a web app whereby study administrators could search, view and export SSPedi data, and an Oracle-based database to house that information.
To ensure an optimal solution, our team combined agile methodology with continuous integration, which involves building minimally viable blocks of code, then continually testing and refining that code. This methodology helps us respond to unpredictability through incremental, iterative work processes.
One challenge was ensuring that secure data syncing would work despite a lack of connectivity, as the app could be used in places without an internet connection, meaning data needed to be synced once a connection was found.
Data security was another concern. Steps had to be taken to anonymize data, securely manage mobile devices, and to ensure any information transmitted to other devices was protected.
Another was integrating six existing screening tools so that they would have a consistent look and feel across the iPad app. All were based on an ethics commission approved paper design, meaning developers had to ensure the app’s design met very specific criteria.
Because SSpedi was used by both young children and teenagers, we had to ensure it had a fun, easy to use design that was suitable for eight year olds, but didn’t seem condescending to older users.
Real Results in Rapid Time
The product was launched on the Sick Kid’s Enterprise iOS store in November 2014, nine months after the project launch. Child-friendly features included a hint system to help users understand various terms to describe any pain they might be feeling, an auto scrolling function, and an option to have the questions read out loud by either a young child or a teenager, depending on the user.
SSpedi is currently being used by six North American hospitals. We are currently working with Dr Sung and her team to make the SSPedi survey accessible to everyone.