Case Study

How a university managed to present massive amounts of patient data in a user-friendly way

Product Description

As a result of research in psychiatry and behavioral sciences, the University of Washington needed a web application to organize their patients’ records. They started looking for a software partner to develop a system for the research data and found Scopic. As a result of this partnership, the UW Research website is a place where university researchers can safely store and see their patients’ data, as well as monitor treatment services and clinical outcomes over time.

The UW Research website allows the university’s professors to track patients’ logins, track symptoms, create questionnaires, and review reports and graphics. Because the website has sensitive personal health-related information, it requires password-protected logins, HIPAA compliance, and other features to help assess patients better. Scopic’s expertise with medical applications, patients’ data, and HIPAA compliance played a crucial role in this project.

The Project

Kevin Hallgre, a clinical psychologist and assistant professor in psychiatry and behavioral sciences at Washington University, is responsible for this project. Kevin found Scopic while searching online for web development services. The collaboration started with a small assignment where the team created a couple of single and multi-line use-case graphs to present data provided by the client.

I assigned Scopic a small piece of the website first to get an idea of how they worked. I liked them, so I continued to work with their team.

― Hallgre

The research conducted by the university focuses on the treatment of problematic alcohol and drug use, and the co-occurring mental health conditions of such patients. For this project, the client was looking for ways to improve the readability and presentation of a large amount of sensitive patient data in number, graphic, and text formats.

Although this application is only used internally by the researchers involved in the project, it helps them find essential data with a friendly user experience. The client is particularly interested in research that helps patients and clinicians measure, understand, and monitor treatment services and clinical outcomes over time. The back-end of the application calculates all the data, and the user interface presents the data in an accessible format. It also has interactive graphs that change after the patient completes surveys regarding their healthcare.

The Challenges

The sensitive personal health-related information requires the application to comply with specific laws and regulations. The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA) is a security and privacy rule made to protect personal health-related information in the United States.

Another challenge faced by the team was the integration between the application and the university’s single sign-on system, Shibboleth, an open-source solution widely used by identity federations, educational systems, and institutions. Hallgre was also trying to deal with the massive amounts of data retrieved in PHP code and saved in JSON or XML.

The Approach

Even though the requirement of integration with Shibboleth proved to be very challenging, the project outcome was positive. Because this website needed to be HIPAA compliant, extra security measures were taken by Scopic’s team to avoid any sort of data breach of the patients’ protected health information, such as names, addresses, phone numbers, medical records, and other information. To manage the large amounts of data retrieved from the PHP code, the Scopic team generated it into multi-line graphs, using a JavaScript library code, D3.js, ensuring users would see the data in a friendly way.

The Solution

The continuous efforts ensure that soon the app will be used by clinicians and subjects. After integrating the application to the university’s research server, the definitive result will be a highly user-friendly, readable platform to track and compare the results of researches.

Their team is fantastic at delivering what I ask. Internally, they have a nice structure in place. Some of their team handle quick and straightforward tasks, while others are strong technical experts that can go in and solve more profound challenges that take more time.

― Hallgre

Technology Stack

The Outcome

The client is highly satisfied with the solutions presented by Scopic.

I’ve found Scopic Software to be helpful and knowledgeable about the work they’re doing. We’ve had some challenges integrating the website on our research server. They’re sticking through and reaching out to find as much information as they can for fixes.

― Hallgre

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