Medical app for blood donors that makes a difference

‘Bliscy Krewni’ app is a medical app for blood donors from the Silesian region in Poland. It is an app made for and with people, and that’s the basis of its success. Read about how we helped the client to achieve the business goal and make a significant social impact with the medical app.

Contents:
Project Idea
Products before the app
The real need of end-users
The bridge between design and development
Design thinking
Development challenges
Technology as the best response to challenges
Our way to deliver secure and fast app
User tests
App functionalities and users benefits
First success and further growth
Satisfied customer
‘Bliscy Krewni’ app in numbers and awards
Summary

Project idea

About the client

The client for whom we deliver the mobile application is Regional Center for Blood Donation and Blood Treatment in Katowice. It is the largest blood service facility from 23 centres in Poland: the annual amount of collected blood accounts for over 10% of blood donation in the country. The activities of RCKiK Katowice include, above all, supplying blood and blood components to over 140 hospitals and clinics in the Silesian Voivodeship in Poland. Every day, the center distributes 200 to 250 liters of blood to hospital blood banks. During over 70 years of operation, blood was collected from over 5 million donors. 

What do these numbers mean in practice? The blood donated by donors, and the service of centers such as RCKiK in Katowice, save a human life every single day. One donation helps 3 people in need. The given blood is a lifeline in an emergency: accidents, operations, and for those who use long-term treatments. 

The client’s mission is to serve patients best. For this to be possible, access to blood must be constant as this is crucial for saving patients’ lives. Therefore, the RCKiK in Katowice needed the application to be a tool making blood donations easier and more accessible. This, in turn, was expected to increase the amount of donated blood. Bearing this in mind, we knew we had to deliver an important tool, not only from the business perspective, but mainly because the application was intended to contribute to saving human life. 


and something about us

The importance of the project was a challenge, but at the same time, a great motivation that helped us to deliver the valuable product encouraging people to donate blood. The detailed objective of what donors needed from the application was predefined by the client. Our goal as an entity delivering the product was to confirm users’ needs, design and develop a friendly, useful, and well-working mobile application. We felt that we were ready to meet these requirements because as a team completed from a software house and a creative agency, we had all the resources to reach this goal. Software Things and Kava were ready to go! 

“The great thing is that we managed to make a product consistent with our mission, in which we declare, we want to cooperate with brands that bring value and change the world for the better. We believe that ethical and authentic communication benefits everyone – brands and consumers” Ania Tomaszkiewicz front-end developer

Products before the app

The collaboration with RCKiK in Katowice was about delivering several products helping to create the client’s image as a modern blood center that wants to be close to people. The aspect of integrating the blood donor community also played a crucial role. We wanted them to feel noticed and needed as a community because their contribution helps save human life.

As Kava and Software Things we delivered several products for the client:

  • Image campaign the aim of which was to build awareness of RCKiK’s activities, and to strengthen knowledge about the intangible benefits of being an honorary donor.

  • Design and development of the new website enabling people with various types of disabilities to use the website. We refreshed the visual identification, made the website intuitive and user-friendly by focusing on the most important elements.

  • Landing page to image campaign including a description of the campaign idea, a promotional spot, and easy redirection to the calendar of local blood donation campaigns.

  • Branding and communication support delivered by Kava to reinforce the image campaign and to build an organic reach on social media.
RCKiK website

The real need of end-users

At Software Things we focus on building real engagement with the help of apps. We want our products to be useful for users, and this was also the case with the 'Bliscy Krewni’ (a wordplay related to blood) application. It was especially important considering the major goal the app was aimed to achieve – increasing the number of blood donations. We knew that donating blood saves lives, therefore we wanted to give users what they need to donate blood

The simplest way to do this was to ask donors what they expect from the app. Good relations with the client allowed us to reach the potential users, among whom we spread the information that we want to conduct workshops with blood donors on their needs regarding the potential app. The users’ response surprised us positively, people came to the workshops and contributed many useful insights. As a result, we have defined what elements had to be the core of the app. This way we didn’t have to predict, we knew what was the most needed. 

workshops with blood donors
Workshops with blood donors

The bridge between design and development 

The outcome of the workshops resulted in one more task we had to face before we started designing. After a detailed analysis of what users need we knew we weren’t able to deliver everything in MVP. In this situation, we really benefited from the good collaboration between the design and development team. We talked through what we had to deliver as a must, how we can design it to make a good UI, and what we can implement in a later stage of app development. We presented the solution proposal to the client and after obtaining approval, we were able to start the next stage of delivering the product. From our perspective, this was a crucial aspect affecting the app development process: design the user’s journey in such a way that developers can conveniently implement it.

Design thinking 

The needs communicated during the workshops guided our designer to create the best possible UX and then to introduce it through UI that lends a hand to navigate easily on the app. We decided to think first of the ‘why’ (user needs it) before the ‘what’ (feature to implement.) The summary of the user research and our brainstorming resulted in the concept of ‘how’ we should design and develop an app to support its usability. 

What we love in this type of long-lasting business relation is that the good elements which we work out at the beginning, we can use in new materials when the project begins to evolve. And that’s what happened with the app’s design. We used a visual key, designed and approved by the client during the creation of a previously implemented image campaign. Thus the whole development time of the app was reduced. 

Development challenges

  • We couldn’t introduce in MVP all the features that users needed, so the app will have to gradually evolve. Therefore, it was essential to deliver the app which will be able to develop, and additional functionalities could be implemented in the future.
  • The application holds the medical data which must be safely stored, so ensuring data security was a must.
  • Enabling the application to process a lot of data, and at the same time to work fast so the user will use it conveniently 
  • We had to create a user registration process that must be developed in a way to ensure that only the authorized person – the blood donor – has access to their medical data.

Technology as the best response to challenges

The ‘Bliscy Krewni’ application was aimed to work on iOS and Android devices. This was necessary, as the client wanted to make the solution available to every user regardless of the operating system on the phone. In addition, the application was a truly needed element to support and increase blood donation, so the time of its delivery also played a very important role.

The client RCKiK we’ve been delivering this app for is an institution, therefore, the budget for the project was predefined and non-flexible. For that reason, it was important for us to use technologies that would help us stay within the budget. 

Based on the project requirements, we decided to write a ‘Bliscy Krewni’ application in the React Native framework. React Native is a cross-platform solution, allowing us to provide only one code, that we implemented in both iOS and Android. It helped us to save a lot of time, as the single code was split between the two operating systems.

Another advantage we took into account, was the fact that React Native uses JavaScript language, as well as the React library which allows for building mobile apps in a native way. 

This way, users get the app that looks and feels like a native which surely impacts the positive user experience. 

We have delivered the ‘Bliscy krewni’ app with the help of Expo, a framework to build the React Native apps. The Expo doesn’t require direct work on native code, it’s also free and open-source, which was an important aspect regarding the non-flexible budget for this project. 

Our way to deliver secure and fast app

The project demands such as providing a secure and fast working app lead us to the decision of using the PHP framework Laravel on the back-end. It’s growing popularity doesn’t surprise – it helps build apps fast, makes them more stable and secure. All of its pros were bottom-line for us to meet application requirements. 

Laravel allowed us to take care of the users’ authentication process. We wanted to assure the client that the solution we propose is able to identify if the users who want to gain access to the app are those who they claim to be. 

‘Bliscy krewni’ processes a lot of data, constantly updated, and Laravel supports the high performance of the app. Moreover, the application’s back-end is constructed in a way that allows it to be reusable by other donation center institutions in Poland who will be interested in delivering a similar app to their users.

User tests 

Before launching the app into the market, we knew we needed to test its usability and performance. We wanted to be sure that we are giving users the product that will work for their best interest, and will help them in donating blood. Besides, we also believe that being engaged in the process of app delivery impacts users’ loyalty. Satisfied users are more likely to recommend the app to friends, which could also support the major goal of the app we always kept in mind. We were aware that the more people will have and like the app, the more blood will be donated. 

Our testing goal was to ask the real users (donors) how they feel about the app, investigate the potential usability problems, and then introduce changes if needed. The big plus was to test the app on actual devices, so we could identify real problems and gather constructive feedback. Again, the good relation with the client was the helpful aspect to get to the real users – blood donors. We introduced the app in the store in developer mode and conducted the semi-closed tests on future app users. As a result of the tests, we made changes to improve usability and user experience.  

App functionalities and users benefits 

My profile – the history of user donations with a distinction between their different types. Application is connected with the RCKIK database so the donation history is updated automatically but the user can also enter the donation manually (e.g. if they were conducted outside the client’s region). Additionally, it presents the history of blood examination. 

Donate blood – the application reminds of the upcoming date of the next planned donation, and suggests where the nearest blood donation points are. The users also get tips on how to commute conveniently to the blood donation point. Moreover, the app offers a really needed option for inexperienced or new donors who are not sure if they are eligible to donate the blood. In case of doubts, the users can complete the test which checks the state of health and, based on the results, assesses whether blood donation is possible. 

‘Bliscy krewni’ (close relatives) – an option listing premises that offer discounts for donors. The user selects the city and sees in which restaurant getting a discount is possible. In addition, the donor is informed about receiving, and activation of a one-time coupon as a reward for the donation made. Such a coupon donor can spend in the locals of ‘Bliscy krewni’.

News – a function that monitors the blood supply: the user can see what blood is missing. Such information may motivate the user to act faster, and donate blood in case of short supply. Additionally, ‘News’ tab provides access to updates of events related to the selected region.

What donors gained

By delivering the main functionalities we wanted to give users the ability to access their donation history and make the new donations easy. The application tells users when they can donate blood. It’s important information because there must be an appropriate time interval between donations. Donation frequency depends on several factors, such as gender, and before the application was launched, the user had to calculate it or contact RCKiK to find out when the next donation was possible. The additional functionalities like the discounts to restaurants or the news panel are aimed to encourage people to donate blood. 

Application Bliscy krewni functions

First success and further growth 

‘Bliscy krewni’ app was launched in June 2020 and turned out to be a success. The app is eagerly used by blood donors from the Katowice region – over 24 thousand active users within one year. 

One of the most important characteristics of the app is its growth based on user experience and opinion. As we examined the users’ needs in the beginning we knew what functions waited in line to be implemented. Furthermore, we provided the users a dedicated help desk that has taken care of their problems, questions on how to use the app, and suggestions for later improvement. The data we collected was used to improve the application and introduce new functions. We have been gradually developing the app to meet as many users’ needs as possible.

The last update involved the implementation of significant functions from the user’s perspective: blood examination, and entering the donations manually, therefore, we decided to support the update with an information campaign. The marketing news was published on social media and local press. The promotional campaign, as well as the value of the new functionality, resulted in a thousand new downloads within a month of the update.

“The application is constantly developing, a big plus that the creators react to comments and fix the errors. Thanks! Now the application is fully functional and works stable.”  Dominik – user 


The last application update is not the end of the journey, further changes are planned to be implemented, and therefore the app’s value and hopefully the number of its active users will keep increasing. 

Satisfied customer

We are pleased that the client is satisfied with our relationship and its results. The achieved contentment is the outcome of several things: products that meet the customer’s requirements and reach their goals, and partnership cooperation based on trust and open communication. We are glad that our cooperation has been going on for two years, and hopefully will last longer.

“Our cooperation with Software Things was a whole digital transformation. We had started with a new website for our institution, this was followed by new websites for our related businesses. Our latest realization is a mobile application – Bliscy Krewni – both for Android and iOS.”  Specialist at RCKiK

„All the processes were well arranged and have ended with great products.” Specialist at RCKiK

What the client gained 

  • App automated processes the client had to run, and as a result reduced the amount of tasks and time consumed for arranging the users’ donations.
  • RCKiK consistently builds the image as a progressive, trend-setting institution.
  • Client took a big step to get closer to its customers, offering them a solution they have at their fingertips, anytime they need.
  • The client observed the increased blood donors engagement in the idea of blood donation – people share their experiences and observations through social channels, donors claim they feel noticed and their involvement was appreciated.
  • ‘Bliscy krewni’ application, as well as other products and services provided as part of the cooperation, contributed to the increase in blood donation.

‘Bliscy Krewni’ app in numbers 

  • Active users: 21.877
  • Years on the market: 1.5
  • Number of people working on the app: 8
  • Number of media publications: 6
  • Years of cooperation with the client: 4
  • Awards: IT Hereos (recognition from No Fluff Jobs)

Summary

“Sometimes, during a discussion about what I do for a living with newly met friends, ‘Bliscy Krewni’ app pops up on top because someone uses it and likes it. It is very nice for me because then I say that this is what my work means – creating apps, and I am particularly proud of this one.” Kamil Jędrkiewicz, full stack developer 

We are pleased with the ‘Bliscy Krewni’ app because it is the application that makes a change. It is dedicated to people and created thanks to the cooperation with real users. They made a great impact on how the app looks and works. In turn, there is a client behind everything who consistently carries out his mission, and we are glad that we can participate in it.

We hope that with this case study we showed how the process of creating a mobile application with Software Things looks like. If you are interested in cooperation, please contact us and let’s discuss your idea. 

If you are interested in other projects we run, see our success story of delivering a holistic service included several digital products for the biggest job event in Poland.


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