Designed by medical professionals, RespiTrac is an innovative healthcare platform that helps users to manage and control their asthma. By giving users simple tools and a convenient interface to track their symptoms, RespiTrac lets patients and physicians work together to customize and monitor each patient’s management plan.
RespiTrac built their web app with Laravel, a great choice for the demanding security requirements needed for dealing with sensitive health data. The team also had an insight. To provide the most convenient, engaging user experience – they needed to build iOS and Android apps too.
Pulling up the browser and logging into a web app wasn’t optimal for a tool designed for repeat, habitual use – and there wasn’t a great way to seamlessly communicate important updates and information either.
Mobile apps had the potential to solve these problems. The icon on the user’s home screen gives a visible, easy route into the dashboard – and push notifications opened the door to a powerful, personalised communication channel to update users with vital health information.
The RespiTrac team looked into the options. They knew that there was no way to reuse their existing Laravel codebase, without rebuilding everything at an enormous cost.
After some research, they signed up with MobiLoud and used our platform – Canvas – to convert the RespiTrac web app to iOS and Android apps. They are now live on the App Store and Google Play with mobile apps that keep all the original functionality from the web!
It’s a good example of how any business can use Canvas to turn a Laravel site into mobile apps. We sat down with RespiTrac’s Product Manager, Barry Cantrell, to get the key details of the project.
Barry told us about how RespiTrac first came into being.
“RespiTrac was founded by Dr Devin Sherman, a Pulmonologist from the Nashville area, initially as a way to help his patients keep up with their data and help staff to effectively track patient’s progress – particularly when it came to Asthma. It’s an interface that charts out information and provides simple visualisations and information to help patients”
Barry added that Laravel was a solid platform to build on, especially when it came to security.
“Laravel has been a really good avenue for us to build out with. It’s been very secure too, which is crucial when dealing with sensitive health data and HIPAA compliance”
So what was the motivation behind the transition to mobile apps? According to Barry:
“It was really about improving user experience and reducing friction. We’ve all got our phones on us all the time. And, for us with patients, we wanted a better way to keep track of what they are going through. If they have any problems, their phone is always within easy reach, and the app is visible there”
The apps were an excellent way to make the platform more convenient for users, especially the older age groups that comprised a sizable portion of the RespiTrac user base.
“Our audience is generally more senior. Cell phones may not necessarily be available to everyone, but they are still far more accessible than desktops. The easy route through the apps is lower friction than them opening up a browser and logging in whether that’s on desktop or mobile”
It was clear that mobile apps were the next step and could help with both providing a better user experience and scaling the platform up through onboarding new patients and physicians.
Barry was tasked with finding the best way to convert the RespiTrac platform into mobile apps. He soon came across MobiLoud Canvas and it appealed to the team due to the low barriers and efficiency.
“MobiLoud was the most legit looking company that I came across. We talked to some other legit looking app development companies – but they were more about rebuilding the app natively from the ground up”
It’s true. It is technically possible to rebuild a Laravel web app from scratch as native mobile apps, and connect them to your existing backend. The problem – it’s likely to be prohibitively expensive and time consuming. If you want mobile apps that reflect your existing web features, then Canvas is the better option as Barry realised.
“MobiLoud’s price range and process was more in line with what we wanted. The hybrid app model was great for us, as we basically wanted our web app inside a native wrapper”
Barry did some more research, and came to the conclusion that MobiLoud Canvas was the way to go. Canvas gave the team all the flexibility they needed, and we could support the high level of security required too.
RespiTrac signed up and we began the process of building the iOS and Android apps. The process generally takes a few weeks, but in some cases it can take longer for more advanced configurations.
For example, RespiTrac wanted to be able to send segmented, personalized push notifications to users based on their in-app activity.
“Sending push notifications to patients was really one of the biggest motivators. We wanted to send out specific reminders, update individual patients on next steps, and provide them useful feedback and information based on the data they had entered into the app”
All our plans come with unlimited push notifications and the apps come equipped with push preferences – so users can opt-in to the notifications they are most interested in.
In RespiTrac’s case, they wanted to send specific, personalized notifications to users based on user actions. This required a bit more tinkering – but it was easily achievable. Since we integrate with OneSignal, Barry was able to make use of their excellent documentation to get the notifications set up correctly.
Canvas isn’t just a tool, but a complete service. Our team are on hand to help you out with personal, fast support. In this case our product manager, Vitor, worked with Barry to get everything set up.
“I wasn’t completely familiar with how OneSignal worked, so it was a bit of homework initially. Once Vitor clearly understood what I was looking for, he sent me this little bit of code – that was what I needed. After that I needed help testing a few things, and we worked together to get everything resolved and ready to launch. Overall, the timeline was good for us”
Now the notifications are configured to perform important tasks related to onboarding and engaging users.
“We have a six week introductory program. New users will get welcome messages when they sign up, then over the course of several weeks they’ll get notifications prompting them to perform specific tasks or read certain pieces of content. Also, when somebody has been inactive for a certain number of days – they’ll get a push notification saying hey, we haven’t seen you in a while – why don’t you come back”
In the case of RespiTrac, the push notifications are very important indeed.
“If a user enters a number that is concerning from a medical point of view, they will get a specific notification related to that. For example, if their asthma level is at a certain point they’ll get a notification 24 hours later checking up on them and giving useful suggestions. If anything is at a dangerous level – they will receive a notification instructing them to contact their physician immediately”
RespiTrac is still a growing start-up, and in the process of building new relationships with patients and physicians across the country.
The launch has been a success though, and the apps have received positive feedback from users, gaining 100% 5-star ratings on the App Store.
“Overall, having apps in our pocket is a huge deal. Although we’re still in the early stages, overall the effect has been very positive”
We asked Barry how his overall experience has been working with us, and whether he’d recommend MobiLoud Canvas to other businesses looking to turn Laravel web apps into mobile apps.
“I think Canvas is a great product, and great value for the investment. It’s just what we needed. If somebody needs a mobile app version of what they built on Laravel – it’s a great choice”
It was great to catch up with Barry and talk about the RespiTrac project, which has the potential to help a lot of people suffering from Asthma. We wish them success and are excited to continue supporting their mobile apps.
Canvas worked well for their purposes, and can work just as well for any other Laravel app. If you want mobile apps that essentially mimic the features and functionality of what you already have, it’s the best way to get there – with no rebuilding, compromise, or prohibitive expense.
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