Building a microservices backend to store and analyze massive amounts of medical device data.
Intensive care units (ICUs) require the most sophisticated and reliable equipment in hospitals. When caring for critically ill ICU patients, there’s no room for error. Baxter makes devices for continuous renal replacement therapy (CRRT), an essential treatment for ICU patients who have suffered an acute kidney injury (AKI). To ensure these devices are functioning effectively, the company needs accurate and up-to-date data on their performance in hospital ICUs around the world. Traditionally, the company had to extract this data manually by inserting a USB drive into each CRRT device. This was an extremely time-consuming and inefficient process, and also represented a significant security risk. After extraction, the data was visualized with outdated software that rendered it difficult to decipher. After implementing new Internet-of-things (IoT)-enabled CRRT devices with the capacity to upload machine performance data directly to the cloud, Baxter knew it needed a partner to help make that information easily and securely accessible for sales representatives. As an industry leader in healthcare IT with extensive experience in designing and architecting cutting-edge data solutions, Codal was a perfect fit for the job.
Founded in 1931, Baxter offers a wide range of technology solutions that empower healthcare professionals to provide smarter, more personalized care. The multinational company has a long history of creating transformative medical devices, which millions of patients and healthcare personnel depend on every day.
With a typical hospital customer using up to 20 CRRT devices, there is potential for a significant amount of data to be uploaded to the cloud for analysis.
As part of its commitment to superior customer service, Baxter wants to ensure its sales representatives are armed with this data to help customers monitor the performance of their devices. This includes checking that the devices are functioning properly, reviewing if hospital staff are using the devices correctly, considering ways to optimize the use of the devices, and watching for signs of degradation over time.
Frustrations around poorly visualized data shared via printouts encouraged the company to pursue an iPad application for its sales reps. This app would incorporate data points present in the previous printed reports, along with additional KPIs.
Codal’s challenge was to create a system for extracting this high volume of data from the cloud, analyzing it to provide necessary feedback, and packaging it in an attractive and user-friendly mobile app—which the Baxter’s sales reps could utilize to have more impactful conversations with customers. These conversations ultimately lead to more effective approaches to treatment in the most critical of hospital environments.
Codal spent months learning the ins and outs of Baxter’s legacy system for collecting, storing, and analyzing data from CRRT devices.
Working in close collaboration with the company’s internal subject matter experts, our team determined the most relevant key performance indicators (KPIs) for data analysis. With each CRRT device consistently reporting tens of thousands of data points, it was essential to determine set metrics to be drawn from that data to provide the best possible understanding of how a CRRT machine was functioning.
This collaborative process was crucial because it provided us with a firm grasp on how CRRT data could be categorized and streamlined to provide a holistic picture of each individual devices’ performance.
Codal conducted extensive interviews with business stakeholders and different types of users. Our UX team visited hospitals in Cincinnati, OH and Louisville, KY to connect with physicians, nurses, and other hospital staff—with the goal of understanding how users interacted with the existing data reports, how they used them to improve the effectiveness of CRRT devices, and what they were looking for in a new platform that would make their jobs easier. These in-person interviews provided valuable perspective on what’s important in the day-to-day grind of these medical professionals.
Once KPIs were determined, Codal began setting up a robust, scalable microservices backend to manage the data.
Amazon Web Services (AWS) Lambda provided a fast, cost-effective platform to handle the significant amounts of data coming from the CRRT machines. Our team used AWS Relational Database Service (RDS), Redshift, and Elastic MapReduce (EMR) to store and analyze the data and calculate the determined KPIs with high accuracy.
Additionally, we used Realm.io to enable the analyzed data to be accessed in the application offline—an essential feature for sales representatives when visiting clients with unreliable network connectivity.
Codal also worked alongside the company’s internal IT department to integrate the app with other critical systems. For example, Baxter’s internal user directory was connected, ensuring that employees could easily gain access to the app, using Okta as an authentication layer.
Our UX team set out to establish a superior information architecture for the app. After creating a sitemap to layout the screen hierarchy, we mocked up some high-fidelity wireframes. Designed to help craft a fast and intuitive experience for users, these wireframes were iterated via feedback from the internal team.
Codal incorporated some data charts from Highcharts, but the complexity of the KPIs called for many of the charts to be designed from scratch, in order to provide the right level of visualization. Once we had wireframe approval from the client, our UI team got started implementing key design elements to create a truly aesthetically pleasing mobile app. Finally, we effectively incorporated the company’s colors, fonts, and branding elements to ensure a consistent and intelligent UX.
After combining a powerful, scalable backend for extensive data storage and analysis with a smooth and engaging front-end user experience (UX), Codal delivered a superior mobile application for the Baxter team.
This application was showcased at the 2021 AWS re:Invent conference in Las Vegas, where representatives from Baxter were invited to speak about digital innovations in the healthcare space.
With the ability to transfer massive amounts of data into easily digestible reports, the app represents a powerful tool for the company’s sales representatives. Reps can compare the CRRT data of multiple hospitals, understand just how well an individual customer’s devices are functioning, and provide suggestions and feedback to help a hospital get the most from its CRRT devices.
With localized instances for sales reps and customers around the world, as well as the offline capability to ensure connectivity when visiting customers with spotty or non-existent network coverage, this mobile app is an invaluable tool for strengthening customer relationships and ensuring Baxter’s technology is making a positive difference in hospitals every day.
Ultimately, Codal delivered a mobile app that helps hospitals better understand their AKI treatment programs and improve operational performance in the ICU. This in turn lowers the cost of therapy and decreases treatment downtime, as well as ensures that patients are receiving the safest treatment possible, and that hospital and ICU teams are adequately trained.
Baxter’s rich history of delivering transformational medical technology has not wavered due to its commitment to continuous innovation. Codal is committed to helping improve the healthcare industry with cutting-edge digital technology, and we’re honored to partner with an organization that helps medical professionals provide superior care to patients in the most critical of environments.