A new app created by software engineer Jason Hammock, a member of the Wyoming Technology Coronavirus Coalition (WTCC), allows people anywhere to visit a doctor in Wyoming by telemedicine.
Although it has been in planning for almost two years, the app was finished in 28 hours over a weekend in March, just before WTCC came into being. In fact, it owes its creation directly to the COVID crisis, and in turn it is directly responsible for the existence of WTCC.
The new Stitches app, available on both Android and IOS devices, is linked to the network of Stitches Acute Care Centers in Wyoming. It offers two options on its home screen: Find a clinic, or set up an online visit.
Clicking the “Start a Telemed Visit” button puts you into the least-busy virtual waiting room, from which you are assigned to the provider who has the most available time at that moment. Self-pay visits cost $49, payable by credit card. The app can also snap a picture of an insurance card, and the invoice will be submitted to the insurance company.
The project began almost two years ago, when the Stitches Acute Care Center approached WTCC founder Eric Trowbridge (ET), who is CEO of the Cheyenne-based coding and design school Array, Inc., to ask whether it could build a telemedicine app. That request ultimately led to a direct financial partnership between Stitches and Array.
“The purpose was to figure out if we could leverage technology to advance health care in Wyoming,” said Family Nurse Practitioner Amy Surdam, who is co-owner of Stitches with her husband, Emergency Department Physician Dan Surdam MD, and also Chief Operating Officer of Array.
“That’s why the app is so exciting for us,” she said, “because it has been on our radar screen since 2018.”
The Stitches app finally came into being precisely because the COVID pandemic had reached Wyoming. That weekend in early March, “the world was feeling a little bit out of control,” said Hammock. “One of the things I do to relax is to sit down and write code. I felt that this was a real quick win, something I could do to get a grasp on an uncontrollable situation.” So he sat down and got to work.
Being able to use the right technology—a relatively new framework called Flutter built by Google that is compatible with both Android and IOS—allowed Hammock to create a fully functioning app in barely 2 days.
Thanks to Hammock’s immediate and creative response to the COVID-19 crisis, the app burst into existence just as social distancing and other control methods came into effect in Wyoming. This inspired an “Aha!” moment for ET, who suddenly reinterpreted Amy’s goal—leveraging technology to advance health care—in light of the new pandemic.
This epiphany coincided with a message from his friend Jerad Stack, a tech entrepreneur in Casper and CEO of Flowstate, which provides leak detection software for pipelines.
“Hey, buddy,” Stack texted ET. “I’m trying to think of something that the Wyoming tech community can come together and do during this COVID crisis.”
“We’re on the same page, friend,” ET replied. I’ve been thinking about this non-stop the last few days.”
He contacted a few friends and acquaintances with an interest in tech, and WTCC came into being. Within less than a month, the network has grown to nearly 300 members.
According to ET, Array is actively working on a proprietary backend for the Stitches app, and is soliciting interest from other clinics that need a telemedicine solution. “We will be doing this during the crisis and beyond,” he said. Interested clinics may contact firstname.lastname@example.org for further information.