Tandem was built by a team of people obsessed with solving big problems in healthcare. We were first inspired to tackle the problem of inefficient internal hospital communications last spring, when researching how existing communications systems lead to high patient length of stay, ambulance diversion, left-without-being-seen patients, and other key KPI's. To get to the root of the problem, we partnered up with Dr. Alex Mohseni, the Chief Innovation Officer of Emergency Medicine Associates, spent over 100 hours over the summer observing, shadowing, and interviewing staff in every role in a hospital at Doctor's Community Hospital in Maryland. At the end of the summer the Managing Director of that hospital joined our team as an advising partner and we designed a solution to the problem of inefficient internal hospital communications (starting with ER and ancillary departments) in partnership with our advisors and numerous clinicians. Shortly later DCH and our advising partner Puneet committed to pilot our solution.

What it does

Tandem has two core features that make it completely unique in the healthcare communications space:

Role-based communication: Providers rarely (if ever) know the names of the people they need to communicate with in other departments (i.e. Lab, Imaging). Systems such as pagers, phones, and HIPAA-messaging products require users to find out the name/number of the person they need to contact, a process that requires them to either waste time looking for that person or sit on hold for 20 minutes. Tandem integrates with EHRs and hospital scheduling systems to automatically distribute messages based off on role, saving providers around an hour per patient (a multi-million dollar proposition for even a small hospital). Task-based communication: Task-based communication is the structuring of messages in a queue-based ticketing system, which pulls in the relevant parties automatically and gives them the tools they need to quickly resolve tasks. This system allows providers to focus on the messages that require their input, reducing communications overload and driving efficiency.

How we built it

Tandem is hosted on a HIPAA compliant cloud provider, Healthcare Blocks, and is built with PostgresSQL, Node.js/Express.js, and React.js. The initial design was developed with two doctors, who now act as advising partners. A prototype based off the initial design was completed in early January, and since then we’ve been collecting feedback from medical professionals, nurses, and doctors to iterate our product. Through Healthcare Blocks, we’re also using Mirth Connect to interface with EHR systems. We intend for our pilot version of the app to be fully HIPAA compliant and integrated with EHR, which should be completed by end of March.

Accomplishments that we're proud of

There are numerous accomplishments that validate our efforts and keep us moving forward:

  1. Recruiting incredible advisors: the Chief Innovation Officer of EMA, two managing directors of hospitals in Virginia, the CTO of an EHR-integration company, and numerous prominent healthcare investors.
  2. Building a fully-functioning prototype and building a community of clinicians eager to implement our product
  3. Winning $11,000 from a series of entrepreneurship competitions.
  4. Moving insanely fast - we work on Tandem 80+ hours a week each - we've gone from an idea to a fantastic product in record time and are now moving even faster to iterate our product through user testing in preparation for our committed summer pilot.

What we learned

Healthcare communications are complex -- "Slack for Healthcare" will never be enough to fix our broken systems. Building an effective solution requires a cross-functional team of technology, business, and medical experts, and its requires a deep-dive into the specific needs and practices of hospital staff.

What's next for Tandem Medical

We are going to continue iterating our product through user testing over the next couple of months. We have already completed HIPAA-compliance and made significant progress on the EHR-integration front.

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