Talk to Mr. Men: #EUvsVirus Hackathon project

During a pandemic, medical teams are worked off their feet. Of course, their first task is to cure the influx of sick people, so they can get better and leave the hospital. But once patients are back home, they need follow-up. Have they taken their medicine? Are they feeling better? Have they filled in their daily progress report? The traditional method is to phone every patient one-by-one, but that’s just the kind of excess work the medical teams don’t need in these times of stress.

The solution: #EUvsVirus Hackathon

As part of the #EUvsVirus Hackathon, I came together with a team from Axway, Sopra Steria Group and BPI France to work on a solution to this issue. The group included Maisie Mouret, Karin Hermans, Emmanuel Methivier, Leor Brenman, Ajay Jain, Thierry Marchandise, and myself. Our app is called Talk to Mr. Men (in reference to the series of children’s books by Roger Hargreaves).

The app offers patients the reassuring contact of the healer’s human voice and the simplicity of a phone call. All this while saving time for the medical personnel and allowing them to keep within the comfort zone of their familiar messaging apps. SMS messages are perceived by the patient as too impersonal, and we know the importance of the human relationship in this context.

What it does

The Talk to Mr. Men app assists both doctors and patients. It provides doctors with a tool to maintain a relationship and follow-up through the channel of THEIR choice, as they all have a preferred communication channel (WhatsApp, Slack, Messenger, iMessage).

The doctor can automatically ensure that the patient has completed the follow-up form but will also be able to personalize the communication if necessary.

This is an essential tool for the health of all patients, but also doctors!

How we built it

Below is an input/output diagram of the solution:

Medical personnel (on the left) can use the social tools of their choice to record their voice, to send targeted messages to different categories of people.

The solution is powered by Axway AMPLIFY™ Application Integration platform. AMPLIFYIntegration Builder, a key component of Axway AMPLIFY™ provides 200+ connectors to make building this type of solution easier.

Challenges we ran into

  • Apart from the challenge of working remotely in different time zones, we are a multilingual team, and understanding each other was not always straightforward.
  • During the weekend, we switched between a variety of teamwork tools, bumping into unexpected limitations (Microsoft Teams, Slack, Syncplicity, iCloud) which also added to the difficulty.
  • Also, with different backgrounds, we sometimes had different expectations of what the finished product should look like.

But we believe that from those differences we derived a more wide-spanning outlook.

What we learned

The confrontation of different points of view was enlightening.

Talk to Mr. Men is built on the principle of API integration platforms. This solution allows an open and standardized architecture capable of connecting upstream not only to instant messaging applications as we have demonstrated but also to all platforms that can:

  • Automatically detect whether the patient has been properly followed with up by connecting to a form service.
  • Check if the patient has a fever (automated connection to thermometers).
  • Take an electrocardiogram measurement thanks to the Apple watch.

If one of these metrics causes concern, the platform can automatically send a voice message recorded by the doctor, to reassure the patient and improve monitoring. The platform can also launch a teleconsultation session via Zoom, FaceTime, or Google Duo, allowing both doctors and patients to use the application they prefer.

If things get worse, we can imagine an automatic call to the emergency services or firefighters… Also, if an anomaly is detected, the patient’s family could receive a voice message.

In fact, we have to understand that “Talk to Mr. Men” is not just a simple application but can extend to a platform interconnecting all the patient assistance services, without implying heavy developments, and all the while maintaining the human touch that is vital during this crisis.

Read about the winners of the Social & Political Cohesion category of #EUvsVirus Hackathon.