Case Study – Genome Gateway

We collaborated with the HudsonAlpha Institute for Biotechnology to design and build a web-based patient portal for their new genomic clinic. It's used to onboard patients, distribute information, and interact with patients anywhere in the world.

The HudsonAlpha Institute for Biotechnology is a nonprofit institute that empowers scientists, educators, and entrepreneurs to translate the power of genomics into real world results to create a healthier, more sustainable world. They approached us about about collaborating on a new project for The Smith Family Clinic for Genomic Medicine — which launched in late 2015 — to use whole genome sequencing to diagnose rare, undiagnosed, and misdiagnosed diseases.

The project was to create a web-based portal (Genome Gateway™) to manage the interaction between patient and clinic. It would make onboarding new patients and information gathering incredibly easy. Once in the system, the gateway would allow for the secure exchange of information between the clinic and patient. To avoid restricting their services to a specific locale, the gateway would leverage the latest web-based video chat features to create an advanced telemedicine experience for its users.

The Smith Family Clinic for Genomic Medicine highlights the entry of genomic medicine into the practice of medicine in the 21st century. There has long been a group of patients whose genetic disorder has gone undiagnosed in these individuals for their entire lives, in many instances. This clinic is the first dedicated clinic to using whole genome sequencing. We are deploying a new technology to medicine and marrying that technology with a new way to interact with patients in Genome Gateway to help provide answers to these challenging cases. We believe genomics will change the practice of medicine.
—Dr. David Bick, Medical Director, The Smith Family Clinic for Genomic Medicine

Patient Onboarding & Information Gathering

Healthcare isn't always looked at favorably by patients. The clinic sought to completely change this for patients by prioritizing their experience with all aspects of the clinic. This positive experience begins with the onboarding process.

The friendly tone welcomes users to Genome Gateway and gives them a direct channel to a real person that they will interact with throughout their experience. Next, the patient will provide information about their health directly in the system for review by a clinician.

Onboarding through Genome Gateway was a critical feature of the patient experience because it sets the tone for future interactions. We needed Genome Gateway to collect information from the patient and reduce the number of times a patient had to fill out the same information or the same forms. The onboarding experience that was developed for Genome Gateway provides a simple way for patients to complete the necessary documentation prior to arriving for their appointment. —Kelly East, Lead Genomic Counselor, The Smith Family Clinic for Genomic Medicine

Telemedicine – See Patients Worldwide

One of the clinic's goals is to interact with as many patients as possible, regardless of where they happen to live. Telemedicine was critical to making this possible, making it one of the most important features in the entire project.

We used WebRTC technology and the latest HTML5 features to build realtime audio / video chat right into the portal. There's no separate application: the call comes through right inside of the gateway. Clinicians can also share their screen with patients, opening up even more options.

One of the characteristics of the conditions that we specialize in is that they are rare; and yet when you add up the number of rare diseases that are known, there are millions of individuals around the world with one of these conditions. It is not always possible for families and patients to travel to Huntsville. We use modern technology to reach those individuals not able to travel to provide the high quality and specialized medical care we offer. Genomic medicine lends itself well to the utility of telemedicine so it made sense for us to incorporate this as a key feature. —Dr. David Bick, Medical Director, The Smith Family Clinic for Genomic Medicine

Pakyow – Fast, Realtime Web Development

During the initial discovery period, we discussed the available technology solutions. Given the short timeframe, and the need for several real-time features, we proposed using the Pakyow Web Framework as the backbone of the project.

With Pakyow, we were able to prototype and even demo features only two weeks into the project. This allowed us to gain near-immediate feedback on key decisions early, meaning we were able to change course and make better decisions as needed. The lack of wasted effort helped us deliver more quickly and at a lower cost than would otherwise be possible.

The many real-time interactions in the project were made non-issues with Pakyow UI. To build the telemedicine feature, we built a custom JavaScript component in Pakyow UI that used the very latest WebRTC and HTML5 technology to provide real-time audio / video chat in addition to screensharing. All call signaling was pushed to the other party using Pakyow’s native WebSocket support.

Since Pakyow prioritizes progressive enhancement, Genome Gateway was made accessible to more people regardless of their connections' speeds or browsers' capabilities.

Genome Gateway also made use of the new Pakyow Console tool, which added out-of-the-box data management features into the gateway. Every aspect of the gateway can be managed through the browser-based Console, including Content and Users.

Pakyow provides the foundation for the programming needed to create Genome Gateway. Throughout the development of Genome Gateway, we asked if the system could perform a specific function. Nearly always the answer was: "Yes, with Pakyow that is pretty straightforward." —Adam Hott, Digital Applications Lead, HudsonAlpha Institute for Biotechnology

Catalyze – HIPAA Compliance Made Easy

HIPAA compliance is no joke – particularly designing, building, and managing the infrastructure to host a complicated web-based tool. Early in the project we explored HIPAA-compliant vendors with HudsonAlpha and quickly settled on Catalyze as our hosting solution for Genome Gateway.

Catalyze gave us custom, HIPAA-compliant infrastructure at our fingertips. We worked together to design a hosting solution that would meet our client’s immediate needs and scale as they grew, all without breaking the bank. No other solutions compared to what Catalyze could offer.

After a quick setup process, our custom infrastructure solution was ready the next day. Their top-notch support team worked with us to answer questions and make configuration tweaks to make sure the software ran properly. Catalyze's security meets the highest of industry standards, as demonstrated by their HITRUST Certification.

"We believe HIPAA compliance should not be a burden. That's our commitment as a partner," said Mohan Balachandran, Co-founder and President of Catalyze. "Our vigilance at the infrastructure level enables Metabahn to focus on doing what they do best: delivering excellent projects to their clients."

We couldn't be happier with our decision to use Catalyze. Our client benefits from lower costs without compromising on security, the deployment process is streamlined for our development team, and end-users can trust that their data is secure. We’re certain that any future projects with HIPAA-compliant needs will be deployed to Catalyze.


HudsonAlpha came to us needing a quick turnaround on a sophisticated project. We were pleased with the opportunity to collaborate, introduce Catalyze and Pakyow to the project, and deliver the right result in time for the launch of The Smith Family Clinic for Genomic Medicine.

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