Provincial Health Services Authority

My Guide: Long COVID

Building new tools to aid patients experiencing post-COVID symptoms and those who want to learn about recovering from lingering symptoms after COVID-19 infection.

Faster Builds with Gesso

In healthcare, time is of the essence. PHSA has many initiatives for digital health resources; getting development projects off the ground and launched as quickly as possible is critical. 

Using our decoupled accelerator Gesso, we were able to meet the deadline of an MVP launch in 110 development days and continue to make feature improvements in Agile sprints post-deadline.

Gesso - Built for Speed

PHSA Logo Stacked

Building The Future Of Healthcare

The Provincial Health Services Authority provides British Columbia residents with a coordinated network of specialized provincial healthcare services. 

The Office of Virtual Health (OVH) leads and provides strategic direction and innovation for the virtual health initiative at Provincial Health Services Authority (PHSA). 

In addition, it collaborates with clinical programs to provide guidance and support on integrating virtual health into its services to enhance care and improve outcomes. 

Situation

Long COVID care has become an emerging priority for BC’s healthcare community. It is a complex array of persistent symptoms following infection from COVID-19. 

Considering that almost 80% of the population in British Columbia has had COVID in one form or another, and an estimated ten percent, or 500,000, of those patients, could develop long COVID, it represents a considerable strain on BC’s healthcare system.

Given the potential number of cases of long-term COVID-19 the province expects to encounter in the future, it is essential to be able to provide patients and practitioners with an easy-to-use source of information to guide patients to clinical intervention. 

Impact

Without a self-guided tool for patients, practitioners will be stretched even thinner than they already are, and patients will face even longer wait times to get the information they need to help manage their symptoms and the long-term effects of COVID-19.

Patients are increasingly demanding access to resources and knowledge to support self-management of their disease and symptoms. Improved patient self-management and empowerment reduce the burden of care for these patients.

Solution

An online clinical intervention tool to help educate patients on long COVID.

PHSA | My Guide: Long COVID | Screen Shot of home page of longcovidbc.ca

To improve their offerings for healthcare practitioners and patients alike, PHSA developed a clinical tool for individuals in the community who may be experiencing long COVID symptoms.

My Guide: Long COVID is an asynchronous, self-management online tool where patients and citizens can review information on best practices to self-manage persistent post-COVID symptoms. 

This new, interactive, self-guided tool aligns with the BC Digital Health Strategy. It is also extensible and scalable for other Health Information Networks (HINs) and Provincial Clinical Partners (PCPs), enabling critical digital support tools for specialized services provincially.

With these goals in mind, PHSA and Acro Commerce put our expert minds together to build My Guide: Long COVID.


Healthcare, Built Better

PHSA | My Guide: Long COVID | Healthcare Built Better

PHSA had a clear list of what they needed and wanted out of this online tool:

  • Questions that, when answered in a certain way, would lead to curated resources for the user.
  • The tool must be built so that more questions can be added/edited by the admin.
  • Collection of resources that can be viewed in a curated format and in totality.
  • Curated content that the user gets by completing the decision tree is stored locally so that the user can revisit it at a later time (if they go back to the site using the same computer) or share it with others using the customized link.
  • Accessible - built to WCAG 2.1 AA standards, plus dark mode
  • Mobile-first design
  • Status component for resource cards — to show users if they have previously read or viewed a topic
  • Ability to navigate the user through resources in a ‘desired order’ with added ‘next steps’ at the end of each resource card so the user is directed where to go next

The biggest hurdle was getting all of these features into one digital asset and getting it online as quickly as possible. 


Gesso — How a development accelerator makes the difference

Gesso - Decoupled Ecommerce Accelerator

Advantages of a decoupled accelerator

  • User experience design, frontend and backend work can be carried out in parallel, significantly reducing development time.
  • Gesso’s design system is a single source of truth for all components and a reusable library for all PHSA projects.
  • Gesso is not married to any one technology, so integrations with a new or existing service are seamless.
  • Built for iteration — Gesso makes future-proofing and scaling easy with Agile-backed processes between aligned projects.
Most viable product acro pyramid diagram.

What do we mean by MVP?

In development, we use a lot of acronyms. One of the most common ones we use at the early stages of a project is MVP or minimum viable product. 

An MVP is the first iteration of a solution, containing all of the critical functionality and a good portion of the "nice-to-have" features. Once the MVP is launched, projects continue in an agile manner, making improvements or adding new features in sprints.


Better Builds Through Agile

Alongside our accelerator, Acro Commerce has fine-tuned our project management processes to speed up time-to-value for all our projects using Agile-backed development processes.

We run a discovery & strategy phase to use everyone's resources best, delivering the necessary information architecture artifacts. At the same time, our front-end and back-end software teams got to work on the development side. 

Traditional vs. Accelerated Development

Traditional development is also called waterfall development, and each stage happens consecutively. Using this process, the first version of a website takes months and months longer.

Traditional Development Path - Acro Media

When adopting an accelerated development path, work is done on multiple fronts simultaneously, dramatically shortening the time it takes to deliver a website.

Accelerated Development Path | Acro Media

Using Agile-backed processes and Gesso, PHSA’s My Guide: Long COVID tool launched in under six months.

PHSA Logo Stacked
"In collaboration with Acro, the Office of Virtual Health, PHSA embarked on a journey to create MyGuide Long COVID. Acro turned our vision of a patient-facing solution for curated symptom-based best practice strategies and resources into a reality. Together, we crafted MyGuide within a short timeframe to bridge the gaps in care and provide an innovative example of a symptom-based self-management solution for those in our community seeking support.”

Kyla Pongratz - Senior Clinical Leader, Provincial Partnerships and Clinical Innovation, Provincial Health Services Authority

Building the future of healthcare quickly & efficiently.

Partnering with a development agency to meet the needs of patients and practitioners in BC gives PHSA multiple advantages.

  • Accelerated time-to-value for a clinical intervention tool.
  • Ability to handle multiple ongoing projects at once.
  • Agile, iterative and repeatable processes.

Meet with our team today if these sound like your website development goals.