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Case study: 'DA App' for the management of atopic dermatitis


DA App cover

'Da App' was a key project of DevInterface, aimed at providing a digital solution for the management of atopic dermatitis, focused on the use of biological drugs. The mobile app, initially called "Derma App", then "DA App", has been designed to simplify the tracking of treatments and optimise procedures related to patients' hospital visits. The client, Fondazione IRCCS Ca' Granda Ospedale Maggiore Policlinico Milano, has worked closely with DevInterface to implement innovative solutions for improving the lives of patients affected by atopic dermatitis. 


Employed technologies

The team has adopted Figma for UX/UI design, guaranteeing an intuitive and user-centred design. The backend has been implemented using PostgreSQL as a database, while APIs have been developed using NodeJS. The user interface was created with Flutter, a framework that allows efficient, cross-platform construction.  

Figma enabled the creation of interactive prototypes and rapid interaction on design while promoting fluid communication between UX/UI designer and developers, ensuring a cohesive and shared vision of the final product. Choosing PostgreSQL as a database provided a solid base for the management of critical patients' data. Its reliability and capacity to manage complex data relations have proven fundamental to guaranteeing accurate treatment tracking. APIs were developed with NodeJS, providing a fast and efficient platform for most mobile app requests. Flutter has emerged as the main framework for cross-platform user interface development. Its ability to create coherent user experiences across different platforms, like iOS and Android, has reduced development costs and accelerated the deployment process.

Besides specific technologies, an agile approach has been implemented in the project's development. This approach has allowed the team to promptly respond to changes in the client's requirements and adapt dynamically to challenges that appeared during development. The agile methodology has favoured continuous collaboration with the client and guaranteed rapid delivery of key functionalities.


Development stages

DA App high fidelity wireframes

The project has followed a series of key phases, starting with the definition of low-fidelity user flows during initial organisational calls. After defining the logo and colours in cooperation with the customer, the high-fidelity flows were created. In parallel, the API and the backend part were developed, followed by the realisation of the frontend part once the user flows were approved. In particular:

1. Call for work organisation and distribution: a strategic organisational call was conducted at the beginning of the project to define team roles and equally divide the work. This phase has allowed to clearly establish the responsabilities of each team member and determine an agreed work plan.

2. Definition and creation of low-fidelity user flows: the project began with defining low-fidelity user flows, working in collaboration with the client to capture the requirements and key user journeys. During this phase a basic prototype has been created to visualize the app's general structure and identify key interaction points. 

3. App logo design and colour choice: simultaneously to the user flow definition, a study has been conducted to define the app's logo and colour palette. The client's active participation has guaranteed that the visual elements fully reflect the desidered "DA App" identity. 

4. Creation of high-fidelity streams: once the low-fidelity user flows have been approved and the design elements consolidated, the project continued with the creation of high-fidelity flows. This phase required a more detailed user interface design, integrating continuous client's feedback to perfect the user experience. 

5. API and backend development: simultaneously to UI design, the development team started working on APIs and backend. The goal was to create a solid data management, guaranteeing effective synchronisation with the frontend user interface. 

6. Frontend development and integration: with the solid definition of user flows and backend, the development team began the frontend development using Flutter. This phase has involved coding and API integration, ensuring that the UI would both reflect the foreseen design and be reactive to patients' needs. 

7. Approval and optimisation: once the first app version was completed, we conducted approval sessions with our client. Revisions and feedback were incorporated to further optimise performances, solve eventual bugs and guarantee full client's satisfaction. 


Challenges faced

During the development of the app, we faced several challenges, like the harmonisation of the user flows with the specific needs of Fondazione IRCCS Ca' Granda. Since the project belonged to a delicate context like atopic dermatitis management, integrating the client's requirements and translating them into technical ones has been an interactive process that demanded continuous communication and detailed comprehension of the medical dynamics and treatment protocols. 

Anche la collaborazione con stakeholder vari, inclusi medici e project manager, ha richiesto una comunicazione efficace per garantire che l'app soddisfacesse pienamente le esigenze del cliente. Coordinare la partecipazione di tutte le parti interessate ha richiesto un approccio equilibrato, assicurando che il prodotto soddisfacesse le esigenze di tutti gli utenti coinvolti.

Also, the collaboration with various stakeholders, including doctors and project managers, required efficient communication to guarantee that the app would fully satisfy the client's needs. Coordinating the participation of all the parties involved required a balanced approach, ensuring that the product would satisfy the needs of all users involved.

Secure and accurate management of patient data in compliance with privacy regulations was a priority. Addressing the technical complexity of integrating a robust PostgreSQL database and ensuring data security required separating user authentication and their data on a separate database in an anonymous manner.

Finally, time pressure was a constant, as the team worked in a structured manner and with a lot of care to keep to the planned schedule.


Implemented solutions

The team implemented efficient solutions to face the challenges we previously mentioned, integrating constant feedback with the stakeholders involved during the various development phases. We adopted an agile approach in the face of complex requirements and evolving medical dynamics. This interactive approach has allowed us to rapidly adapt to requirements changes and incorporate continuous feedback, guaranteeing a constant alignment with the client and final users' expectations.

Effective management of the client's expectations has been a key area. We've maintained constant communication with Fondazione IRCCS Ca' Granda through regular meetings, detailed updates and revision sessions. This transparency allowed the client to fully understand the project's status and significantly contribute to its evolution.

Furthermore, we promptly integrated the feedback we collected during the development phases to adapt the app to the real user needs. This user-centred approach has improved usability and the apps' relevance in daily clinical practice. Facing the complexity of managing patients' personal data, we've implemented rigorous security and cryptography measures, ensuring compliance with medical data privacy policies and strengthening our clients' trust in the app's security.

Choosing flexible technologies like Flutter for the frontend and NodeJS for the backend allowed us to rapidly respond to changes while maintaining the timing provided. Technological agility was crucial in facing challenges efficiently and in integrating new functionalities, ensuring a fluid and coherent user experience.


Final considerations

mockup DA App

DevInterface's multidisciplinary team, consisting of the team leader, UX/UI designer, backend and frontend developers, graphic designer and various hospital stakeholders, has played a crucial role in the project's success. The project has been completed, meeting the deadlines and maintaining the budget.

The client's feedback was extremely positive, underlining the app's utility in improving the interaction between patients and care providers. The strong collaboration with Fondazione IRCCS Ca' Granda has demonstrated to be fundamental for the project's success, i.e. the creation of a mobile app that goes beyond mere technology, positioning itself as a tangible support for patients and a facilitator for healthcare professionals. 

The agile approach allowed us to easily navigate through the complexities of the project, enabling the team to adapt in real time to the needs of the client and the medical industry. Transparent communication with the customer and close collaboration with stakeholders helped create a product that fully reflects the expectations and needs of the dermatology community. The solutions implemented reflect an ongoing commitment to excellence in all aspects of the project.

"Derma App" is tangible evidence of how collaboration between an experienced technology team and a top medical institution can lead to solutions that go beyond expectations. "Derma App" is not just a mobile application, but a significant step towards the digital transformation in the field of dermatology, helping to improve the lives of patients suffering from atopic dermatitis and promote innovation in the healthcare sector.


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