Emeris uses Telecom APIs to build Healthcare Mobile App

HealthAPIOver the past couple of months this weblog has taken a break from interviewing businesses running on telecom APIs, to get TADHack together. Keep an eye on TADHack, we have lots of exciting announcement coming up, its going to be an exciting event in building the telecom application development ecosystem.  But getting back to talking with developers innovating on Telecom APIs.

Glen Marchesani, owner of Emeris gave me some time to chat about his experiences using Telecom APIs. He’s built systems on Asterisk, has come in to rescue businesses who’ve built their businesses on Asterisk, and is a Scala (object-functional programming and scripting language) programmer. He uses Scala because of his Java heritage and the benefits of the type-safety Scala provides in making handing over code to other developers to manage and maintain relatively easy. In the real world, applications get built by one developer and need to be managed and maintained by another, so language choice is not just a personal preference decision, there are significant operational impacts.

His experiences in using Telecom APIs, rather than building a dedicated telecom platform and the factor of 10 difference in costs on the first project, and factor of 100 difference on subsequent projects is a testament to the ease with which web APIs expose telecom services that can easily be consumed by his applications. Such development savings sound like the numbers a marketing person would quote, but in conversations with developers focused on building telecom applications, using Telecom APIs keeps the arcane art of telecoms hidden in a nice black box, so they can focus on the applications and services that use telecommunication.

Glen has been building a Healthcare Mobile app using the Tropo API. In 2010, three doctors thought that there must be a better way. A way for doctors to communicate the way the rest of the world does but in a HIPAA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996) compliant way. They also wanted to protect themselves from frivolous law suits as well as have the patient’s medical history available to them when they needed it most- at the time of patient contact. The result was Healthcare application Glen built on Tropo.

  1. An automated answering system that was less expensive than live operators (typically half the cost of a live operator)
  2. A system that recorded all the telephone conversations
  3. A system that presented the patients’ medical history to the provider before they take the call
  4. A system where doctors and patients could securely message each other (yet change your status to unavailable at any time)
  5. A system where doctors can also secure message other doctors or office staff about patients’ PHI (protected health information)
  6. A system created by doctors for doctors and other providers which allows the provider to take control of the entire system from their smart phones

Note SMS is not HIPAA compliant, so alerts can be sent to phones, but it can only be a notification that messages are waiting on the Healthcare application. Recording the calls has proven vital. In over 10 court cases already, recordings show the doctor advising the patient to go to the emergency room, and the patient ignoring the advice repeatedly, and then claiming the doctor provided poor advice because they did not go to the emergency room. Many practices share out of hours on call coverage and app manages this across the practices. It makes it easy for Doctors to always be contactable, meeting HIPAA compliance, saving costs, and being much more effective at their jobs regardless of location.

Telecom APIs have transformed telecom application development, Emeris’ Healthcare app is a powerful example of their use to the everyday challenges doctors face in their jobs.