• Julian Hernandez

Connecting with loved ones using OutSystems




The Problem


Make a list of people who would worry about you if you were in the hospital. How long is this list? Who is on this list? How do you keep everyone “in the loop” as to your progress and condition?


Recently, I spent a total of 44 days in the hospital with what started as pneumonia, brought on by legionnaires disease, and had developed into a rather large hole in my left lung which required surgical intervention to repair. During these 44 days, I had quite a few updates for my family and friends. This included happy moments like “Just got the first chest tube removed!” to rather stressful moments like “Well… looks like I am going to be needing that surgery we were all dreading.”


At the start of my hospital visit, I would send text messages and make phone calls to those on my “list” which was sufficient in relaying pertinent information about my condition. Soon, I saw an emerging pattern which was mildly problematic… the amount of detail shared during a phone call or text message was inconsistent. I would forget to mention a detail here, a medical reading there which would leave some on the list in the dark.


Moreover, some people on the list either worked in the medical field or had prior experience with hospital visits and the medical field as a whole. This made text messages and phone calls much more concise, in contrast to those who had not set foot in a hospital since they were born, the detail and explanation necessary to communicate my condition and status to the medically inexperienced was much more cumbersome and sometimes excruciatingly slow and subject to misinterpretation.



How OutSystems saved my sanity and brought peace to those on my List


So, I had a list of people who want to know my condition and how I was progressing. Some knew medical jargon, though most didn’t. How would I communicate effectively and consistently? OutSystems was the solution.


On the third day of my hospital visit, I opened my laptop, logged into my personal OutSystems environment, and began work on a very simple application. One Entity with seven attributes and one Static Entity. My Family Medical Update app had been born. Within an hour, I had completed preliminary work on the CS module including the Upsert and Delete server actions necessary to create and remove updates. From there the Front-End module was created and the (arguably aggravating) work of creating a somewhat good looking front end had begun. By the end of the day, in between blood pressure readings and doctors walking in and out of the door, the Family Medical Update Application was ready for use.


At first, much to my surprise, many in my list thought I had created this application to prevent them from getting into contact with me. I had one family member get somewhat offended, suggesting that I was getting annoyed with having to talk to so many people throughout the day. Nothing could be farther from the truth. I made this application to make sure everyone could understand my condition in a much more complete manner.


Luckily, the hospital I was being treated at had online medical records which were, generally, 2–3 hours behind real time. This was a game changer for the Family Medical Update Application as I was able to Copy-Paste complete days worth of vitals, xray impressions, blood tests, etc. giving those on my list, a much more comprehensive view of my medical condition.


This also allowed me to open up to those on my list in a much more personal manner. The Family Medical Update Application had become my journal throughout my medical stay, giving those on my list an understanding of my mental state throughout the rather stressful 44 days. I was able to express how much all the support had helped me keep my sanity in check in one, rather personal, entry as opposed to individual phone calls.


I felt at peace, knowing that everyone on my list was able to understand my condition with such a simple solution. And it was fun to make! On the lighter side of things, it felt overwhelmingly good to tell people the application was made in an afternoon. Most did not believe that this application didn’t exist the day prior.


To wrap things up, OutSystems gave me the opportunity to take a stressful task and turn it into a) a learning experience b) a way to connect with those who care about me. I have made many personal projects with OutSystems ranging from a tool to view statistics from my favorite sports via available APIs to a flashcard application for studying for exams. None of these applications gave me peace of mind like the Family Medical Update Application did. I recall nurses telling me “You need to sell this application to the hospital and make some money”


The value this brought me had payed for itself and then some.



As I wrap this up


Let me take a moment and gratuitously thank my employer, Accelerated Focus, for not only providing the educational support to bring me up to this level of programming competency and confidence, but also for being so unbelievably understanding and supportive during this ordeal.


Let it be known that they saw me as a crazy American, working from the hospital with chest tubes in and around my lungs. To me, it was the sense of normalcy that I desperately needed to heal. I thank them again for everything they have done for me. A special shout out to Greg, Travis, and Mark for having the patience to read my endless stream of update emails and for being just all around nice, supportive people.


They have my loyalty not by forcing it, but by leading by example of how professionals can and should should treat each other.

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