FindMD — An App Story

FindMD

Many people in rural areas across the world receive their healthcare primarily from roving clinics. They receive dental care, eye exams, and all matter of other healthcare from these mobile clinics. But when an emergency happens people do not often know where the nearest clinic is that can help or how to receive medical advice to help the person in need.

These types of medical emergencies happen in these regions everyday and thanks the proliferation of cheap cell phones most people in even the developing world have at least basic cell phones.

If nearly everyone has access to a cell phone they should be able to find help no matter where they are in the world.

The solution was FindMD. An SMS based app that people could text with their location to find out where the nearest clinic is to them, how far away it is, and get in touch with a health care worker there.

On the clinic / healthcare worker side we made a iOS app where the healthcare worker could respond directly to nearby patients in need. The iOS app also allows clinic administrators to oversee staff at each clinic and for local clinic managers to update the clinic’s location as needed so the patients always have the most up to date location information.

The healthcare worker side also includes patient — doctor chat functionality so the patient can learn more about the seriousness of the injury and how to stabilize the patient or how urgent help is needed.

We created the app using Twilio to convey text messages to and from our Parse backend. This app was built a couple years back so we haven’t continued to keep the Parse and Twilio number updated…also Parse was killed during the intervening time.

We used the Google Places API to determine where people are based on their village name. During testing we found Google had a much larger repository of villages in rural areas than Apple Maps. We settled on having the user send their village because sending location based on Cell tower signal strength triangulation often does not work in remote areas where there could just be one cell tower near the user. We also decided again GPS because most basic phones do not have GPS chips to get accurate data from to send the coordinates to our backend.

Take a look at the demo below!