Valley Health System uses low-code to meet mobile app development challenges
Clinicians and leadership at Valley Health System, a regional health system that serves residents in northern New Jersey and southern New York, needed the ability to access key data and patient information to provide optimal healthcare on the go.
Because the health system provides various forms of healthcare – including oncology, diabetes care, cardiology and more – the organization couldn’t use a one-size-fits-all app and still meet the specific needs of its staff.
The health system determined it needed a centralized development platform that allowed users with minimal technical background to develop unique applications and as quickly as possible. Valley Health System needed to combine multiple desktop apps for operations, executive dashboards and decision-making software, while also ensuring data security and a scalable licensing model capable of supporting more than 5,000 users.
“Our organization was going through a similar change to what many healthcare organizations are facing, a need to be more mobile and utilize innovative technology,” said Michael Laidlaw, an IT manager at Valley Health System.
Laidlaw has been working in health IT at Valley Health System for 17 years. He currently oversees teams responsible for ancillary application support, application development, integration and data management.
"The ability to have a wrapper app that works with both Android and iOS allows us to just focus on the creation of a single page that will work for all."
Michael Laidlaw, Valley Health System
“We had a strong internal development team, but ran into issues having the right technology for the team to utilize to quickly generate mobile and web applications,” he explained. “The amount of work required to generate an app for all was not something we were able to put the time into, so most of our internal applications utilized older technology.”
Using WaveMaker, a low-code development platform, the Valley Health System developed a range of modern mobile applications that integrate into key healthcare platforms like Meditech and athenahealth to ensure each of its individual lines of healthcare could access data in real time and provide quality patient care.
A low-code development platform is software that offers an environment where developers can create applications via graphical user interfaces and configuration, instead of through hand-coded programming.
“WaveMaker offered us the ability to do rapid deployment of web and mobile apps,” Laidlaw said. “The ability to have a wrapper app that works with both Android and iOS allows us to just focus on the creation of a single page that will work for all. It also ensures that we are able to properly manage rights and secure our data. There was a quick learning curve for our developers in order to utilize the new technology.”
MEETING THE CHALLENGE
Valley Health’s nursing staff all have iPhones from a previous implementation of Patient Safe Solutions. This made it paramount that the health system be able to invest in a product to bring other tools right to the hands of the nurses and nursing leadership.
Additionally, not everyone on staff is on the health system’s internal network. So the health system needed a way to make important information available from anywhere in a secure manner. IT staff have been able to put the WaveMaker app on devices both internally managed and externally managed through their mobile device management software.
“At this point, our focus on app development has been informational,” Laidlaw noted. “Our first set of apps was aimed at bringing important information to the hands of those who need it, when they need it. We are utilizing SQL databases to feed the information to those individuals. We have not tried putting information back into our Meditech EHR at this time, but that is on the roadmap.”
By using the low-code technology, Valley Health System has achieved:
- A single, unified platform that encompasses web and mobile strategy to provide streamlined data delivery.
- The ability to implement themes to maintain brand consistency across individually developed applications.
- A mobile app delivery model that bypasses wait and publishing times.
- The streamlining of mobile delivery of all necessary data for their leaders, physicians, nurses and many other frontline staff, improving patient and staff experience.
ADVICE FOR OTHERS
In the healthcare industry, simplicity and security are important for low-code development, Laidlaw advised. Provider organizations also need to supplement their EHRs, rather than try to recreate aspects, he added.
“Our recommendation is to look for simplicity in the low-code world, which allows for rapid development,” he concluded.