Empowering Primary Care Superheroes: A Behind-the-Scenes, Post-Hackathon Chat with Pearl Health - Vim

Empowering Primary Care Superheroes: A Behind-the-Scenes, Post-Hackathon Chat with Pearl Health

At Vim, we’re all about driving advancement in healthcare technology and breaking down barriers to help the brightest innovators in the space test the limits of their creativity. That’s why we were delighted to support one of our newest partners, Pearl Health, for their bi-annual company hackathon this month by giving them early access to Vim Canvas, Vim’s developer platform and SDK, for one of its hackathon teams to leverage. 

Pearl Health is a provider enablement and value-based care technology company that helps primary care providers and healthcare organizations succeed in value-based care.

“Our partnership with Vim presents significant new opportunities to our providers,” said Jennifer Rabiner, Chief Product Officer at Pearl Health. “While much of Pearl’s workflow lives outside traditional patient visits, when a provider needs the insights we have in our platform, we want to make sure they have them at their fingertips. Vim’s point-of-care technology solution makes this possible, bringing critical information from Pearl directly into the visit workflow.”

To get the inside scoop on this epic 72-hour event, we sat down with Moses Ting, Director of Product Design, Abdullah Al-Dhalaan, Senior Software Engineer, and Phil Shiu, Senior Software Engineer at Pearl Health to discuss Pearl’s second hackathon, including the Vim project.

Before we dive in, here is a quick rundown of the Vim project during Pearl’s Hackathon event:



Explore ways to bring Pearl’s robust technology portal experience into the EHR and at the point of care to enhance and improve their provider partners’ workflows.



72 hours



R&D: Engineers, Data Scientists, Product and Experience Design



Vim’s Developer Platform (Vim Canvas), Vim’s SDK, Vim’s EHR Sandbox Environment



Vim’s R&D Team, Shared Slack Channel with Vim

Required Deliverable

Required Deliverable:

A proof of concept in-EHR experience for Pearl’s provider partners

Q&A with the Pearl Team:

Q: Moses, what was the inspiration behind this hackathon?

Moses: Serendipity and listening to our customers. Four days before the hackathon, I happened to be chatting with my colleague Angie Inlow, who heads up Enterprise Partnerships at Pearl Health. She has an amazing understanding of our larger customers and shared two patterns she’s been noticing:

  1. Practices typically have custom in-office workflows, which makes it difficult to bring all of their care team members onto additional software systems like Pearl
  2. These care team members spend most of their day in their EHRs

That was the eureka moment. I said to my colleague: “You know what would be a fun hack? What you just told me. Instead of care team members logging into Pearl, why don’t we bring the most important user interactions into their EHR.”

So I submitted the idea and got really lucky when Phil and Abdullah from our engineering team decided to join the hack. Ideas are only ideas until they get built.

Q: That’s an awesome vision. What were some of the key goals you had for the event?

Moses: Besides having fun with our ideas, our VP of engineering Ryan Donahue provided some great guardrails for this hackathon event. From adding value to our customers to reducing technical debt, hacks were encouraged to be shippable in a foreseeable timeframe and to stay anchored to Pearl’s mission of empowering primary care providers.

For the Vim-specific project during the hackathon, we were excited to play with Vim Canvas and learn what we could do with it. Could we bring the best of our Pearl app into Vim? Can we build a proof of concept in just three days? The support we got from Vim’s engineering team right from the start was phenomenal, and it helped us make steady progress early on.

Q: How did the overall hackathon reflect your team’s approach to its product roadmap and solving problems for end users and partners?

Moses: Hackathons let us look at problems differently and become better at how we approach roadmap planning. Case in point, this project was a masterclass in learning what we can do with Vim. This knowledge will no doubt inform us of what user problems we can solve in the foreseeable future.

Q: Speaking of problem-solving, Abdullah, why did you choose Vim’s new developer platform and SDK as the project you would work on during this hackathon event?

Abdullah: Day to day at Pearl, I work on a team that builds the infrastructure to trigger and deliver our patient insights and alerts. Because of that, I’m always aware that these only provide value if they can reach and can be seen by our users. When I saw this project idea, it was immediately my first choice because it would allow me to experiment with a new patient alert delivery route. I was concerned with the integration challenges in such a short time that the hackathon provided, but the platform’s simplicity hid all the complicated EHR details and allowed us to focus on our core challenges.

Q: What about this hackathon was unique from others you’ve led in the past? 

Phil: As mentioned earlier, we had phenomenal support from Vim right from the start of our hackathon project. I honestly think their entire engineering team was there during our kickoff meeting, and they provided around-the-clock support through our joint Slack channel.

Moses: The other unique thing was how quickly we were able to move. You don’t often hear “fast” and “healthcare innovation” in the same breath, but that’s what we heard during our presentation and demo. All the credit goes to Abdullah, Phil, and the support we received from Vim.

Q: The Vim SDK was completely new to your team. How were you able to start from scratch and  build a proof of concept in less than 72 hours? 

Phil: We were only able to successfully build our proof of concept because of the support we received from each other in the hackathon team, from Vim itself, and from so many others at Pearl. Everyone at Pearl and Vim were very excited about how Vim can enable us to make our clinician’s lives easier, which led to many different parts of both organizations coming together to help unblock the development of the proof of concept. I wouldn’t be surprised if over 30 people helped us in some way during the course of the hackathon. The collaborative nature of our organizations was key to getting this proof of concept off the ground.

Q: Abdullah, what can you tell us about your experience with Vim’s developer platform and SDK? 

Abdullah: The Vim SDK was very well documented and really easy to get started with. Almost all of our questions that first day were already answered for us. We quickly got up to speed and up and running with a functional “Hello world” app in a few hours. Once that was done, Vim gave us what we wanted, a blank canvas that we could experiment and build on top of without getting in our way. I enjoyed bringing the familiar Pearl UI into a new and unfamiliar place, the EHR. It was a fun challenge wrangling to fit that core Pearl user experience into a smaller space.

The Vim team did simplify the auth handshake for our app, which helped us get up to speed much quicker. In the real world we would have needed more time to do so.

Q: What lessons did you learn in creating your solution and building your application on Vim Canvas, and what would you do differently next time, if anything? 

Phil: One of the fun parts of this project was working together to solve unknowns about how we should integrate our software into Vim. We would each take a different approach to solving the same unknown, which turned out to be very helpful because it allowed us to regroup later and branch to the approach that worked the fastest. I don’t think we explicitly planned it that way, but in the future, I would definitely like to continue to plan for overlaps in what hackathon members do because working on the same problems sparked synergies unavailable when working in silos.

Q: Partnerships between companies are often made at the highest level, so it’s amazing to see tangible collaboration between the Pearl and Vim team members who typically perform this important engineering and problem-solving work behind the scenes. On this, I did hear a rumor that the Vim logo is now a custom emoji in your Slack – a high honor. Can you confirm this? 😉 

Moses: Confirmed! I looked and noticed that it was added by our CTO. My follow-up question is whether the Pearl Health logo is a custom emoji at Vim… 😀 If not, then you know who you can ping to get the right-sized image.

Q: I recently listened to a podcast episode in which your CPO, Jennifer Rabiner, was interviewed. She mentioned that one way Pearl empowers primary care providers is to help them tap into their superpowers. When you think about the outcome of this hackathon, how does it help your provider superheroes? 

Moses: While we’re still working on this as a design team, one of the key principles we’ve come across repeatedly is to help providers save time. Through discussions and user interviews, we’ve observed numerous processes and procedures that steal time away from providers, time that should be returned back to patient care. The ability to reclaim time, maybe that’s the superpower.

Q: So, will your team’s stealth project and proof of concept built on Vim’s SDK and developer platform soon become an actual use case available to your provider partners?

Moses: It’s a really compelling use case and likely an important one as we consider how we want to grow as a business in the upcoming months.

Q: Final question: What is next for Vim and Pearl’s partnership? Is there anything you can spill the tea on now? 

Moses: The Vim Canvas readily offers us a blank canvas to work with, so the possibilities are endless! Pun aside, it’s a unique platform that reminds me of what the mobile revolution made possible — the ability to bring (or push) information and content to where users are. In healthcare, that destination is every practice’s EHR system. As a designer, I’m excited about what we can do with this blank canvas.

Thanks to the Pearl Health team for giving us a glimpse of how Pearl creates healthcare superheroes and fosters a culture of innovation, exploration, and fun. Also, thank you for sharing your team’s experience using our developer platform and SDK, Vim Canvas, which is currently in closed beta. We are thrilled to see the Vim vision of building a more connected and collaborative healthcare system take shape.

D'Anna Siegle

Director of Content Marketing at Vim

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