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A little over a year ago the entire world stood at a standstill as the COVID-19 pandemic swept through entire industries and economies, with the healthcare industry being at the forefront of the impact. At [e-spres-oh], we knew we couldn’t just sit back and witness the chaos, so we didn’t. Instead, we developed three software tools that each address some of the most impacted categories of people: frontline workers, medical staff, and patients.
And our work is not done yet. In fact, we are just getting ready to launch a mobile app. But first, we’d like to look back and share our contributions to helping things get back to normal, by doing what we know best: great software.
While all of us at [e-spres-oh] weathered the pandemic by sheltering in place, more than 50 million frontline workers in the U.S. continued to show up and carry out their duties despite the life-threatening environment that surrounded them. In March 2020, we developed SafeSphere, a mobile solution designed to help people uphold social distancing with the use of ultrasound.
Fast-forward to November 2020, after months of spending uninterrupted time with our four-legged friends, we realized that the veterinary industry was also an industry that had drastically changed as a result of the pandemic. According to a CM Research report, 76% of veterinarians continued to offer their services in-person, while also implementing safety measures such as limiting pet owner visits. As a result, pet owner anxiety increased, and with it came an increase in client communication. With our pet’s best interests at heart and driven by the insights of several clinical care physicians, we developed Gemma, a mobile app designed to streamline communication and increase pet owner satisfaction.
A year after the pandemic started, in March 2021, the U.S. had reported having administered 100 million COVID-19 vaccines. With demand for the vaccine increasing by the minute, entire pharmacy scheduling systems became overloaded. We knew a sleek software solution could help people schedule their appointments without the extra hassle. So, with the public’s best interest in mind, we developed VA Vaccine Finder, a Twitter bot that, alongside other similar solutions developed for other states, helped millions get their vaccines faster.
What was the goal of each software product? To answer that, let’s take a closer look at each solution.
March 2020: We developed SafeSphere, a proprietary technology that accurately determines the distance between two or more smartphone users over time. Using precise acoustic signals, SafeSphere’s patent-pending algorithms determine how close users are to each other, alerting them to keep a safe distance.
SafeSphere was developed to help front-line workers, all 50 million of them. It was designed from the ground up to help keep everyone safe: employees, customers, students, teachers, senior citizens, families, and friends.
SafeSphere’s mission is to help institutions and businesses create a safe environment for both employees and guests. Our proprietary technology helps companies protect and empower people in their workplace by identifying proximity risks while storing zero personal data.
An ultrasound-backed solution, the MVP allowed us to test the technology between two devices and was designed to be scaled to a solution for several users.
[e-spres-oh] applied to the NSF for an SBIR grant which would allow us to continue to develop and refine the primary application. We firmly believed that SafeSphere’s unique and novel use of ultrasound could be of help to millions of people.
With the right partner ready to advance the research, SafeSphere’s game-changing technology could eventually be commercialized as an alternative to physical barriers in order to achieve social distancing.
November 2020: We developed Gemma to allow vets to streamline communication between pet owners and practice teams, help them save time, and build trust for increased patient satisfaction.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, pet sales, pet adoptions, and pet fostering skyrocketed. In some cities, fostering rates increased by as much as 90 percent, and some shelters saw their application numbers increase by 10 times the normal rate. Consequently, the veterinary care industry experienced an increase in demand.
According to the AVMA, 98 percent of veterinarians implemented safety measures, such as limiting human visitation, which increased pet owner anxiety to an all-time high. Veterinarians found themselves spending increased hours managing client communication. Phone and email communication grew by 79 percent and 69 percent, respectively.
On top of managing client communication, implementing safety measures, caring for animals, and striving to keep their businesses afloat, veterinarians also had to face changing team dynamics. Efficient team communication became paramount as staff were forced to adapt to their new roles while general fear and anxiety had increased amongst pet owners.
We developed Gemma in collaboration with a group of veterinarians who gave us a glimpse of the new reality they were experiencing as a result of the pandemic. Gemma’s unique features are a direct response to the most pressing issues vets are going through.
“Gemma was designed to make our day easier and our patients’ families happier. Our feedback is the backbone of this app and it certainly delivers.”
says Alex Blutinger, Critical Care Specialist at BluePearl Partners and Gemma’s Advisory Board Member.
Beyond creating a bespoke solution for veterinarians, Gemma was also developed to provide pet owners with peace of mind. Gemma’s multimedia communication feature allows veterinarians to share photos and videos with pet owners. The response has been incredible!
“It was great to have a connection with Beau since we weren’t able to visit. This was a helpful tool for staying in touch!”
said Joseph, a pet owner that received updates from the medical team via Gemma.
Gemma will launch publicly at the end of the month. With the help of our advisory board and the feedback received along the way, our mission is to develop the number one mobile app for client satisfaction in the veterinary industry.
February 2021: We developed VA Vaccine Finder, a Twitter bot that sends out alerts to help people find available Covid-19 vaccine appointments in Virginia. Currently, the bot identifies and shares available slots at six pharmacy chains across the state.
As the vaccine rollout increased across the country, the light at the end of the Covid-19 tunnel appeared within our reach. However, distributors, such as pharmacy chains and grocery stores, experienced an overwhelming demand, making it increasingly difficult for people to book appointments online.
“Just hit refresh until you find an available slot,” and “Try booking your appointment at 2 AM” were common pieces of advice shared between people trying to get vaccinated a few months ago.
At [e-spres-oh], we knew that a software solution would eradicate the extra troubles that came with trying to book an appointment online and, thus, help contribute to the country’s endeavor to reach its vaccination goals.
So, we put on our white hats and got to work.
VA Vaccine Finder was revolutionary for people in Virginia. With more than 5.7 million impressions in March and 1.1 million monthly profile views, VA Vaccine Finder proved to be exactly what people needed.
As a result of our success, we started conversations with the Virginia Health Department, US Digital Response, and other bot developers across the country to create a common infrastructure that could serve for a better vaccine scheduling system in the future.
SafeSphere, Gemma, and VA Vaccine Finder are not only reflections of what we can accomplish as a group of leading developers, but also of who we are as people. At [e-spres-oh], we believe in pioneering unique software solutions for complex problems while making the world a better place.
For now, we’ll continue to live out our mission, one line of code and one espresso shot at a time. If you have a problem to solve and need an extra hand, you know where to reach us.