At the height of this pandemic we came across a cable news interview with Dr. Giovanni Guaraldi of the University of Modena and Reggio Emilia. Things looked bleak in northern Italy. We wanted to help. We reached out to Dr. Guaraldi to better understand what doctors were facing and how we might be able to provide a solution. Doctors needed a way to monitor Covid+ patients at scale. There was simply no existing solution for this.

At the same time my own family was in need of my help. My parents were in Chicago, so I set off to help them while hatching a plan to build an application to help Covid patients around the world. I enlisted my close friend and startup confidant, Chris Anderson, and together we set off on the path to build a much needed, and brand new type of telemedicine application.

In honor of the Italians we named our product "CelaFaremo" which loosely translates to "Well get through this". We wanted our app to be memorable by the people using it, and we wanted its name to resonate with the spirit of the how we were all doing our part to face this crisis. We decided to keep this naming convention for the United States, and today our app's english name is simply: stayStrong.

What it does

stayStrong connects Doctors to their patients in a very unique way. Doctors can assign fully customizable Smart Assessments to their patients. These assessments can help monitor any disease through unique scoring based on established clinical tests. Smart Assessments can also be set to be delivered at any frequency - once, daily, weekly, monthly - a doctor can easily assign single or multiple assessments to their patient in order to monitor various aspects of their COVID condition.

One-on-one video conferencing is not scalable in a pandemic, but doctor-patient communication is still vital. That's why we build in real-time chat into our app. Patients can still communicate important updates and changes to their conditions including uploading images or videos of something they are experiencing. The doctor dashboard makes messaging hundreds of patients fast and simple. In one hour a doctor can easily communicate with hundreds of patients instead of just one. Based on the Smart Assessment scoring a doctor can easily focus on the most critical patients first.

We also designed our products from the ground up for teams. That means that our product is perfect for the largest healthcare providers and insurers to even a single physician's practice.

Smart Assessments are designed to be translated into any language. That means a single mobile app can distribute a COVID assessment globally to anyone with access to an iPhone or Android smartphone. Doctors are free to publish their assessments and allow anyone in the world to use them for monitoring as well as collecting patient data.

Finally, data is valuable to researchers who are trying to understand as well as solve the mysteries of the COVID-19 virus. That's why we allow anonymized data to be collected and pooled for ethical analysis. Patients who opt into have their data anonymized are ensuring that we have a global dataset on how this disease is progressing around the world and how we might come together to stop it.

How we built it

We built this app using Kotlin, Swift, and Dart for the mobile app, and we used Vue, Javascript, and Google Cloud Services for the doctor's dashboard and system backend. Chris and I hired engineers from around the world to help us in any way possible. We would hire engineers for a short stint to help us with something we were stuck on. We were often stuck on things that were completely new to us such as the basics of building scalable and HIPAA compliant backend systems.

Challenges we ran into

Our initial assessments were hard coded into our mobile app. They were great, but whenever a doctor would need to update the scoring or order of questions it was quite difficult to update and release the new application. As patients used the app it was scary to imagine that all this work would have to go into updates that could potentially affect people who needed this life saving application. Our solution to this was to engineer a solution whereby the Smart Assessments were never hard coded into the application. Instead, we stored them on the server and taught our mobile app how to render every possible question type. Now, changes could be made by doctors at any time. Patients would instantly get an updated set of questions and the data sets would intelligently reflect the proper data that was pooled through all version of an assessment.

Accomplishments that we're proud of

We're most proud of our perseverance as well as being able to work with so many talented people around the world. We wouldn't have the product we have today without this team effort. We're also proud of pressing forward with some of the most challenging engineering tasks we've ever had to do with such few resources. We're also proud to have heard a call from a doctor in the field who needed help and been able to respond to that call on such short notice to provide what we hope will be a valuable humanitarian solution.

What we learned

We learned all the daily moving parts in building not only a technical solution for a humanitarian cause, but also all the things needed to build a proper startup in the healthcare industry. There were numerous privacy laws to familiarize ourselves with in America as well as in Italy. Navigating through HIPAA and GDPR was an adventure in learning in itself, and one that we are still learning more about everyday. We learned how fragile we are as well as how resilient we can be. We learned that hard work and building products to help others is something that provides us with a uniquely satisfied feeling in the world of startups.

What's next for stayStrong by deedaLabs

Thanks to the incredible support we've received during this hackathon, we're planning on publicly launching our stayStrong product in the days ahead. We will initially be working with healthcare providers in the United States as well as Italy. We've also decided to provide our Smart Assessment technology to all healthcare providers fighting COVID-19 for free. We've also developed a paid tier for our product that allows healthcare providers to easily monitor multiple diseases through our Smart Assessments.

Please feel free to keep up with our progress at:

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