Published on July 21, 2015

This post was previously on the Pathfinder Software site. Pathfinder Software changed its name to Orthogonal in 2016. Read more.

We asked Amanda Plummer, Business Systems Analyst of American Association of Critical Care Nurses (AACN) to write a guest post with her perspective on the space:

I’m a business systems analyst with the American Association of Critical Care Nurses (AACN). My team and I recently worked with Orthogonal to develop a new application for the AACN.

AACN already had one mobile application in the space. It offered mission-driven content that we wanted all of our members (especially novice nurses) to receive, but we wanted to retool the offerings and the design. A lot of information was not easily discoverable in the original app, so we reached out to Orthogonal to help us quickly develop a new one which we could get into the marketplace as soon as possible.

The original application was free to download via iTunes or Android app stores, but also offered in-app purchases for additional content nurses to use at the bedside. The app functioned like pocket cards, with references to help nurses pull up information on how to read an ECG, or how to titrate certain medications – but the content was buried within the application and not easily accessible. In order to get to it, users had to go to an in-app store, search for content, then purchase it. We wanted the reboot to uncover that process, making it more accessible.

A quick turnaround was a top priority for AACN, because we planned to terminate the original app, but we also wanted to maintain control of the application moving forward.

AACN didn’t have the in-house resources to develop and release a new mobile application. But we wanted to have the ability to update the application when reference research and evidence need to be changed. Changes and updates happen quite frequently, and we really couldn’t update the old application very easily. We had to go through a lot of hoops to get new information out to users. We wanted to control the updates ourselves – that was another reason why we went with Orthogonal – they could simply hand off the application to our internal staff for updating.

Embracing changes and tackling issues head-on was also evident throughout our development process. The Agile process Orthogonal implemented allowed us to quickly create user stories and communicate regularly on the project process, risks and issues of concern within each sprint. The quick development pace, thorough research and the understanding that Orthogonal offered really met our needs and our mission for the app we wanted to create and maintain for our membership.

Although statistics aren’t available yet on the new application’s popularity (it was only recently released), Orthogonal definitely met our needs. We worked closely with them to address previous issues with user experience and ease of use. They were very focused on speaking with our subject matter experts and nurses, and really understood what bedside nurses needed, how they would be using the application and who would be using it. We especially liked the part of the process where Orthogonal asked a lot of questions, gathering information so that they could really understand what it was we were trying to achieve: connecting nurses with essential resources from the AACN, the expert source for high acuity and critical care. Additionally, we want to keep nurses current in a rapidly changing clinical world by giving them instant access to our most popular reference tools.

This instant access to information is something the development team was able to solve through beta testing with about 50 volunteers from the AACN membership. The testing showed that one feature the volunteers really loved was the ability to bookmark information. Now, the bookmarking feature is front and center when you launch the app, so you can pull up all of your bookmarks at once. For example, if you are having a hard time remembering a rating scale for shortness of breath, you can bookmark it so it will be at the top when you launch the application. You can get to that content quickly, without having to go through the normal navigation process.

Orthogonal helped AACN meet its user-facing mission as well as its in-house goal of control of the application. Orthogonal built the app for us, then gave us all of the code. We also own the app, as part of the agreement. Our development staff can quickly and easily update some of the content in the application, as well as add content. As we roll out new pocket references for the nurses, changes in evidence-based practice and new practice alerts, we can easily go in and update the app, and push out changes and additional content very quickly. This allows us to be a little bit more nimble in getting that information out to our membership.