1. Astronomy
    a. any of various groups of stars to which definite names have been given…
    b. the section of the heavens occupied by such a group.
2. A group or configuration of ideas, feelings, characteristics, objects, etc., that are related in some way.
the evolve constellation

I recently blogged about Evolve for iPad™ and the journey we followed in designing an iPad only version of our Electronic Medical Record.  The success of our app has been incredible and clinicians throughout the NHS are raving about its usability and accessibility, which is helping them deliver better patient care and improve patient safety.  However, we believe this success is only the beginning.  Mobility will play a crucial role in the delivery of healthcare in the coming years and our vision is for Evolve to be at the centre of this.  However, this presents us with a dilemma – how do we continue to innovate and provide the range of functionality needed by clinicians while still honoring our core design principles of usability, performance and security?  We have carefully crafted every feature within our app and will not simply continue to expand it with more and more features, turning it into a Swiss Army Knife app.

Instead, our strategy is to deliver a growing collection of apps, each one explicitly designed to solve a particular problem really well and each one designed to complement clinicians as they treat their patients.  Up until now, I didn’t have a term to properly describe this ecosystem, but Fred Wilson coined the phrase “App Constellation” in one of his recent blogs and for me this perfectly describes our vision of a portfolio of inter-connected apps, each designed to do a specific thing.

The challenge with an App Constellation is that it needs to be carefully designed to ensure all the apps can seamlessly integrate with each other – we don’t want a fragmented ecosystem that is difficult to navigate.  To address this our R&D team have been doing a lot of thinking and research regarding many of the challenges in this area, including some of those outlined below:

  • Single Sign On – Within the Evolve constellation clinicians will only be required to logon once. If you are logged onto one of our apps you will be logged on to all of our apps.  We don’t want to get in the way of clinicians, so making this feature seamless yet secure is a key requirement for us.
  • Deep Linking – Another important requirement is for our apps to be able to communicate with each other. For example, if a clinician is viewing a patient in one app, they should be able to seamlessly and intuitively open another app in our constellation in the context of that same patient.
  • App Extensions – This will give our apps the ability to securely share information between apps, opening up a whole world of opportunities, including a shared document storage location that all approved apps can securely access.
  • Beyond the Evolve Constellation – Not only do we want apps within the Evolve constellation to be able to communicate easily with each other but we also want to support deep linking and app extensions with other third party apps, allowing us to securely relay/share information.
  • Offline First – All our apps will follow an offline first design principle, so we are transforming the offline capability within our existing app into a framework that can be used by any app in our constellation.

In summary, I believe app constellations are the future of mobile healthcare and I’m looking forward to sharing more of our progress in this area over the coming year.  Watch this space. 

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