The Norwegian Institute for Functional Medicine (NIFM) asked us to design a website and application for a new approach to active, continuous healthcare. The institute’s idea of healthcare requires the creation of a personalized web platform addressing the needs of every member, where their medical data is combined with expert medical advice in order to meet specific goals such as weight loss, ongoing symptom reduction and more.
To do this, we needed to develop both a presentation website and the actual client-facing web application that allows NIFM to offer personalized health counseling to each of their members in a secure and streamlined manner. This web application is called MySite, and it is a very feature-heavy application that needs to deliver on multiple fronts simultaneously. This makes NIFM one of the biggest projects we’ve undertaken thus far.
Like all of our projects, our first step involved a project discovery phase. Since the scope of this project is quite large, we spent a full week putting all of the details down on paper. With functionality clearly explained, we could move on to developing mockups of all the necessary pages inside the MySite web application.
With the mockups approved, we got to work on coding and designing the application. We ended up backtracking after three weeks, starting fresh with a new user interface at the client’s request. In the end, we developed the mockups in HTML and then began work on the website homepage in parallel.
The home page involved many revisions in order to really drive home the value of the NIFM approach to healthcare. It was a lengthy process, but we remained in continual contact with NIFM leadership to approve functions, discuss individual page features and make sure that the end result really delivers on the institute’s promise: an all-in-one solution for personalized medical advice in any medical field.
In order to do this, we needed to develop application functions for: Secure digital signatures, Comprehensive health reports, Customized patient timelines, Evaluation tracking, Administrative interoperability
This means that the MySite application needs to deliver equally relevant results to a patient who signed up with the explicit goal of losing weight as it does to one who suffers from epilepsy, for example. For this reason, the data needs to be very flexible—what’s important for one patient may be irrelevant for another—yet reliable enough to save lives.
By far, the most significant challenge with this project was developing an all-in-one medical services platform that works for all possible goals and treatment types. In the end, the best way to do this was by linking a user-friendly dashboard to some of the application’s key features:
such as blood type, weight, nutrition, medical conditions, antecedents (if present) and relevant lifestyle factors.
so that each member has easy access to any upcoming treatments scheduled through an integrated calendar.
such as medical literature on a particular disease or authoritative content on subjects such as eating healthy, reducing mineral deficiencies, etc.
so that the entire platform remains focused on the patient’s needs. This is a user-input field, meaning that a patient can write, in their own words, what they expect the application to do. NIFM’s team can then customize MySite’s content to deliver.
With the basic element of patient-side functionality complete, we could move on to patient groups and chat features. One of the most helpful things about this platform is that it gives patients the ability to coordinate and compare care options with other patients (anonymously, if desired) while benefitting from expert medical analysis.
Creating a back-end that could provide this depth of functionality to thousands of separate patients was a particularly stubborn challenge. The client’s preferred server, Microsoft Azure, was new to our team, but we studied it and successfully configured it to deliver the level of reliability NIFM expected.
On a project of this size and scope, effective communication is always a key challenge. Our timeframe for completing the project was in the range of six months; a single day’s miscommunication would delay website launch. Fortunately, we made sure that our team was available during Norwegian business hours so that we could act as soon as they had feedback for us.
Some of the main learning points for this project came from its sheer size and complexity. It put our project management capabilities to the test in conditions where the client’s requirements would frequently change mid-course.
We also learned a great deal about client training, since NIFM needed to manage the back-end itself to deliver accurate medical advice to its members. Furthermore, the platform needed to make content available in both English and Norwegian. This meant implementing a powerful WordPress plug-in called WPML and teaching the client’s team to use it effectively.