Smart and nimble: Creating a scalable, multi-platform solution for virtual urgent care

To break new ground in virtual-first delivery, healthcare start-up CloseKnit needed pioneering technology, top-caliber talent, and a speedy build.

Woman looking at a laptop that shows the CloseKnit website.

“It’s been a remarkable experience. The thoughtbot team really became part of our team, with great availability. I don’t have to think about the design system because it just works. It’s scalable, it’s beautiful, and it works.”

– Matt Thompson, product manager, CloseKnit

The Challenge

How do you create a product that can handle multiple integrations and bring it to market fast?

CloseKnit launched its virtual-first primary care practice with a mobile app. It quickly became clear that patients wanted the option of using a desktop browser to see their doctors on a larger screen, and to interact with more than one healthcare provider. Compounding the challenges were the need to bring the product to market as quickly as possible with a very small team.

Illustration for the CloseKnit brand showing a stylized doctor standing with their arms folded between two nurses.

We wanted to build the new product with Ruby on Rails, and we chose thoughtbot because its team includes some of the industry’s best Ruby on Rails developers.

A headshot of Sabrina Staedt

Sabrina Staedt
vice president of engineering, CloseKnit

Screenshots of the CloseKnit application on a mobile screen size. The main screenshot says "Hi James, Welcome to CloseKnit" and has an virtual visit care reminder with a button to enter the waiting room.

What We Did

Much of thoughtbot’s work with CloseKnit focused on deploying Hotwire, brand-new technology that allowed the web team to develop the new product while the Android and iOS teams could inherit most of the features without needing much new coding. Working with high-caliber developers gave CloseKnit the confidence to take on brand-new technology even with a tight timeline.

Healthcare is a complex business with many integrations needed, from access and communication between patients and providers to billing and other administrative functions. Working with UX designers who can also code—a hallmark of the thoughtbot team—was a game-changer for CloseKnit’s team, they say.

I can design something to the ninetieth degree and take it to Steven, and I trust his development work because I’ve seen his design output and it’s fantastic, and I trust his feedback to tell me what’s feasible and not feasible.

A headshot of Matt Quatrani

Matt Quatrani
UX developer, CloseKnit

The Result

The thoughtbot team loved the challenge of partnering with CloseKnit while trying out brand-new technology. Using Hotwire to dynamically update the web experience in response to feedback from CloseKnit was exciting, says Louis Antonopoulos, thoughtbot Development Team Lead. The reality of the healthcare industry is that additional integrations will keep coming “and thoughtbot is able to just boom, boom, boom, make them happen,” says Quatrani.

CloseKnit’s engineering team has gained much more than a high-caliber product. By modeling clear, thoughtful, and responsive communication, thoughtbot’s team changed the way CloseKnit’s product and engineering teams interact with each other, even down to how they approach code reviews.

Stylized illustration of a man with a medical badge typing at a computer.

Overview of screenshots of the CloseKnit product showing different screens in various screen sizes.

We’ve had eight to ten times improvement in our release speed over a year, and that pace only looks to continue to accelerate. It’s night and day in terms of what we’re able to deliver.”

A headshot of Matt Thompson

Matt Thompson
product manager, CloseKnit

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