Developing An Android App

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by Simon Shearston, CTO of Careful

We were fairly close to completing our iOS version when we decided to shift to Android as we were getting immediate interest from developing countries where Android is much more prevalent than iPhones.

Android comes in many flavours but we are working to the vanilla Google version, to run on phones from Oreo 8.0 upwards. We are developing with cross-platform tools, which meant that all the business and data logic runs without any changes from the iOS version. Our backend is hosted on Azure and presents an API layer for all of Careful functions. Indeed, our web interface uses the same API. One change or bug fix at the back is immediately available for web and app.

Each API call contains a token acquired during login and is secured in transmission and receipt. On the web version, this token expires quickly for security. On the phone, this will not be necessary, as long as the token is protected locally and can be deleted in the case of a phone being lost.

No patient identifiable data is stored on the phone and is only cached temporarily during app use. In a dynamic clinical environment, we call the API extensively to make sure the data is up to date. This is no different from loading web pages. This does mean that it requires wifi connectivity.

The design philosophy is that the most important functions are always presented to the user and are easily found. No information is more than three clicks away and the majority are less than that. So the user will be able to consume information by the lightest of interaction, with just one thumb (left or right).

The bottom navigation bar contains all the important functions, with due actions and requests highlighted with a red badge. All views are closed with the Android back button to return to the previous view.

The app can upload images and short videos against a patient note, an action note or when closing an action. These can be captured by the phone within the app and will not be stored locally, once posted.

One of key advantages of an app is the ability to send notifications. We plan to introduce these, especially for when the app is not being used, just like WhatsApp, for a new action or handover requests. We confirm an invitation to join Careful via an SMS and your phone number then becomes your login. No email interaction is proposed. For the time being, we are not supporting any messaging as staff are probably already overloaded with communications, but if it becomes a popular demand we will incorporate it in later versions. 

We continue to work on Careful as a flexible, elegant and cost-effective solution to make handover and ad-hoc information exchange secure and safe.

If you wish to be a beta tester of the Android app, please do not hesitate to contact us.

Simon started his working life as a hospital porter in Reading. He qualified in radiography at The Middlesex Hospital, London before moving into technology at Kingston Polytechnic. He was a senior systems engineer at St. Thomas’ Hospital, London and went on to hold senior consulting positions at Apple and Microsoft.

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