How do we go about building a great medical app?
At Quin, our goal is to help people with insulin treated diabetes get a good quality of life by helping them make the best possible self-care decisions. We also hope to be able to push the boundary of knowledge about diabetes and the endocrine system by grouping people who take similar treatments and get similar outcomes.
To achieve these aims we’ve built a mobile app which helps users to make treatment decisions using knowledge about how similar treatments in the past affected their outcomes.
Why an app?
People with diabetes don’t have the luxury to decide when to treat their condition; so many factors make blood glucose vary throughout the day that decisions have to be made all the time (at work, on the tube, in the cinema, in the middle of the night!)
A mobile app is the perfect platform for Quin; phones are ubiquitous, people take them everywhere, and they have an enormous amount of computational power.
With modern phones we are able to track exercise, generate situations in real time, and even run machine learning models all on device!
How we build apps at Quin
At its core, the application delivery process is not too dissimilar to what you might expect to see from other app delivery companies. We undergo research and design to understand what new features could help our users, we flesh out these ideas and see how they can be best integrated into the Quin app experience, we build the feature, and then validate that it works as intended before releasing to our users. We are constantly iterating through these steps throughout the entire process which enables us to get quick feedback and rapidly evolve the app.
There are a however a few overarching beliefs and principles which make our delivery process a bit different:
- Safety first
Safety is a top priority for us at Quin, and we understand the responsibility we have to provide a safe experience that gives our users confidence. Our users trust us to help them in their day to day diabetes care, and we don’t want to damage that trust.
By considering medical regulatory requirements early and often we ensure that, feature by feature, we are building a safe and releasable product. Too often “regulatory” is seen as a burden, but by including it in every stage of the process, it informs our designs and implementation and is not some hoop to jump through at the end.
- Human in the loop
When looking at different solutions for diabetes treatment, it would be easy to treat the problem as a system, all the while forgetting it is the human who is managing their treatments and living with the outcomes. We firmly believe effective diabetes treatment must start from that human perspective.
To that aim, we have a firm focus on human centered design and research. We build a hypothesis, validate that hypothesis through user research, quickly iterate through designs with our users to see what works before building it into the app. After each release, the team validates what we’ve built, and we feed those learning back into our idea generation cycle.
- And how does that make you feel?
Throughout the entire process we continually ask ourselves how new designs or features will make our users feel. When we get it right we believe our users should be delighted, inspired, confident, and respected.
- We won’t always get it right…
… and that’s fine! The important thing is our users are safe, and that we’ve learned something new about what is valuable to them. We iterate all through our app delivery process, and are not afraid to throw parts away or work on something differently if it wasn’t quite right the first time.
Understanding what works best for our users is not easy and is not something that will be solved overnight, but with a willingness to experiment and learn, we know we’ll be able to help improve the quality of life of our users.
We practice what we preach
These principles are not just reserved for app delivery, but infuse our whole way of working and the way we interact with each other.
Fast and frequent feedback is not just a valuable tool in app delivery; we are constantly evaluating how we’re doing across the company. By being open and honest about the way we work, we believe that we will be able change and adapt our processes to ensure we’re making the best possible app for our users in the most effective way!
Just as our users are more than their endocrine system, the people that work at Quin are more than just app-creating machines! We strive to make Quin a workplace where you can express what you think and how you feel, because only by being yourself and not feeling restricted or held back do we believe we can make the breakthroughs that are desperately needed by our users. We try and make the workplace a place where we can feel emotionally safe to speak our minds and challenge each other in a constructive way.
Working on such a challenging problem that affects so many people can be daunting, but with these guiding principles and practices we hope that together we are able to make a great diabetes app that our users value. We publicly launched our equity crowd funding campaign a few weeks ago, and we’re already overfunding. If you too believe that we need a better diabetes app, it’s not too late to join us: http://bit.ly/2w8vaiF