In the keynote at Apple’s World Wide Developer’s Conference (WWDC) in San Francisco this year, we were all reminded that mobile apps can make a significant difference for real people with real world problems.
Tim Cook, the CEO of Apple, shared stories of apps that have helped blind people walk through unfamiliar forests and help autistic children. Frankly, this was an inspiring moment and a refreshing change of perspective for a developer community that can at times learn toward more opportunistic motivations.
These stories reminded me of an app that Jadie Barringer created. Jadie isn’t a software developer at all – in fact he is a doctor and he wanted to make an app that would help other medical professions. Jadie’s app is called Critical.
Critical is an educational tool and reference guide that seeks to provide healthcare professionals with the framework to become better clinicians.
Critical contains detailed medical guidelines, including:
- Critical Care & Course of Action
- Emergency Medicine
- First Aid Care
- Para Medicine
- Drug Calculators
- Formulary & Drug Interaction Checking
- Pediatric Advanced Life Support
- Ventilator Management
- Special Procedures, such as CTs and Chest Tubes
- Monitoring Information – Electrocardiograms & IABPs
Advanced Cardiac Life SupportCritical – Medical Guide also features images, diagrams, and interactive videos in high-definition to teach you what to look for in real life. Videos and Imagery to Assist in the Critical Care …and much more… All medical staff, including doctors, nurses, paramedics, EMTs and support staff will benefit from having this fundamental medical material – while on-the-go or in a medical facility.
What Really Sets Critical Apart
Not only has Critical reached the 15th spot in the Medical category on the App Store (no small feat for a $9.99 app), but Critical has also been reviewed in the blogsphere in medical blogs like the New Nurse Blog and iLadies. Critical has also made appearances in journals like JEM (Journal of Emergency Medicine).
What’s really great about Critical is that the app is helping people for real. Not only that, but Critical is helping people who help us (first responders, EMTs, nurses). This app is making a difference. For example, here is what a medic in Africa had to say about Jadie’s app:
I work as a remote site medic in West Africa and in the 2 days I have had this app I already find myself thinking
“How did I get by without this?!”
I find the material to be accurate, easy to navigate, and suitable for self education in my down time. This easily replaces the 4 (!) other apps I was using before for reference. Thank you to the developers for taking the time to make this app as good as it is!
– Matt The Medic
How Did Jadie Pull This Off?
Critical is a success story financially while being a legitimately beneficial app. Jadie didn’t start off as a software developer but he did have some things working in his favor: a legitimate niche idea that he was an expert in, determination and discipline and he also had some ideas on how to market this application.
Keeping It Legit
Jadie knew the problem he was trying to solve because he had to deal with this problem himself. So, he knew his idea was legit. My own app was similar, I knew about the problem of keeping track of wine notes. The easiest way to keep it legit is to work on a problem that you are familiar with and then to use the app yourself.
Doing the Work
It’s tempting to look at software developers and apps and think that you have to be a genius to do something like that. That’s not really true and while Jadie obviously is smart (they don’t let just anyone be a doctor right?), he didn’t really know anything about software development. We all have to learn this stuff at some point.
Learning about software development is not dramatic and there aren’t many secrets. It’s mostly about the long haul and slowing moving the ball up the field so to speak. It becomes frustrating and seems like insanity at some point. What separates the winners and losers is simply that the winners don’t give up even when it’s hard.
Jadie was determined and disciplined about learning this stuff. Doing our iOS Code Camp video conferences, I remember him shouting “HELL NO!” quite a few times when he had to deal some iOS absurdity. But, he worked through it one step at a time and that eventually led to him releasing his app.
The success of any product including apps does depend a great deal on marketing. Other than the product itself (which must be excellent) you want to have your own house in order and get the word out. If you look at Jadie’s house when it comes to Critical you’ll see that the app is well represented. The website looks good, there are video demos, testimonials and press releases. None of this is optional.
The second part is getting the word out. If you poke around a bit on the web you will find social media outlets, press releases and more about Critical. Blogs have covered the app and I’ve seen advertising in medical journals. Again, none of this is optional if you want to be a success in the app store.