The evolution of a health demo (or “no – you can’t have the source code”)

UPDATE: Sample code is now available at the links in the blog post below - download and start building ! Gareth


Hi all

imageAbout a year ago we created a Windows 8 demo app called Rounds that we used to show what modern applications in health could look like in the future (highlighting stylus input, a great user interface, Microsoft Lync integration and other interesting ideas) and it was very well received. You can see what it looks like – there are 2 versions: the Physician version and the Nurse version. We knew we had succeeded when we had a number of partners and customers asking for the source code so they could build a “real” version of the app. Unfortunately, because it was a demo, the source code wouldn't have been much use to anyone.


I am really pleased to report though that things have moved on, and we can now answer that question more helpfully. Today, we released two health Idea Books (Idea books are a concept we have developed to enable us to build sample apps that use code you can use in your own applications – enabling you to reduce your development time, and build apps that take advantage of the new Windows 8 design language, rather than just being a port of other mobile applications).

image of a the doctor's rounds app summary pageThe first Idea Book is for a doctor’s rounding application (that we worked on with Manipal Hospital in India). You can get it here. This is by no means a complete application, but it does show you some really interesting ideas for using the Windows 8 design language can help in health apps, and in a couple of weeks we will post the sample code used so you can get a jumpstart on building your own similar applications, rather than starting from scratch.

image of semantic zoom with the patient listWe are starting to see some interesting uses of the Windows 8 design language in health apps – and this sample app uses semantic zoom in an interesting way to enable the doctor see either a summarized or more detailed view of his or her daily schedule, with pinch used as the way of zooming in or out of the detail.

When I show these sorts of things to customers (who are used to today’s less visual EMR’s for example) they often ask whether it’s just a gimmick – but the ability to zoom into detail, zoom out quickly and move along a record (for example) is hugely powerful. Greenway’s PrimeMobile app does this very effectively, and that is a real app you can use today.

image of a list of hospital staffThe second Idea Book released today is the Inpatient Idea Book that again shows some new ways of building an inpatient application and focuses in particular on assisting the interaction between the patient and hospital staff. One of the concepts explored is making the patient more comfortable with her care team as that is often a source of anxiety in patients. This stuck a chord with me, as a few months ago I went to a presentation from Microsoft Research about their work on “Designing Patient-Centric Information Displays for Hospitals” that highlighted exactly this issue (as a side note, it is one of the great privileges of working at Microsoft to be able to go and listen to Microsoft Research talk about their work).


If you are looking at building Windows 8 apps in health – have a look at these Idea Books and the materials they reference to get yourself familiar with the approaches and then come back in a couple of weeks when the application specific sample code will be posted for you to download and use.

Please let us know if these idea books are useful to you. We are really looking forward to seeing some of the amazing apps you build over the coming months- it continually surprises me to see the innovation that customers and partners are building.


Windows 8 lead – Worldwide Health at Microsoft