Implemented "aggressive" Scrum to deliver transparency in software development
Rationalized a common technology stack and development tools
Unified data repositories into a single analytics platform
“It's just about impossible to find people with the right skills, experience, attitude and belief system — at the right price — around here. The same goes for any other major city or tech region of the country today.”
Type 1 diabetes is a chronic disease that affects nearly 3,000,000 Americans. While in the past couple of decades, many advances have been made in the treatment of type 1 diabetes, progress remains slow and there is no known cure. Most patients struggle to meet recommended outcomes, and the only effective treatment is still insulin, which was first used in 1922. The disease continues to place a major quality of life and financial burden on patients and their loved ones. T1D Exchange is striving to tangibly improve outcomes for patients as fast as humanly possible.
Founded in 2010, T1D Exchange brings together patients, caregivers and researchers to expedite breakthroughs in type 1 diabetes care. The organization has built a patient-centered, data-driven model with three key components:
A patient community and social network that provides resources for patients and caregivers, and promotes connections among community members and engages the community in research
A biobank of biological specimens and related clinical data leveraged by academic and industry research teams to better understand the disease and support developing therapies
A clinical network and registry that allows clinics to contribute patient health information on tens of thousands of patients, collaborate on publishing and develop novel studies
"Discovering, developing, translating and delivering a new therapy typically takes 15 years or more," notes T1D Exchange executive director and co-founder Dana Ball. "We're aiming to shorten those timelines by offering researchers, clinicians, companies and foundations access to a robust patient-centered research model with a dynamic central repository with these data and resources."
To achieve its ambitious goal, T1D Exchange knew it needed an integrated platform that could aggregate, collect and store type 1 diabetes data -- one that would be accessible worldwide and unite those dedicated to improving outcomes as fast as possible for this challenging chronic disease.
But building a platform like this requires talented engineers. And in Boston, where T1D Exchange is headquartered, they're not easy to land.
"As a nonprofit company, it's just about impossible to find people with the right skills, experience, attitude and belief system — at the right price — around here. Strong technical talent and teams are in high demand, and it's getting more difficult to move projects forward in this highly competitive environment. The same goes for any other major city or tech region of the country today," says Ball.
The Newfire Difference
In early 2017, T1D Exchange began considering its options. The Newfire Partners model appealed on multiple levels. Unlike many other outsourcing firms, Newfire is headquartered in the United States. Ball and his CTO knew that would help with speedy resolution of normative issues that arise when building software-based systems.
The development team in Eastern Europe, meanwhile, was a great fit not only in terms of expertise and cost, but also culture and methodology. "I liked the can-do attitude and the agile development, minimally viable product [MVP] approach," says Ball. "Ultimately, the decision to go with Newfire was about value. That is, making our dollars go longer so we can develop more product and invest more in the tools and resources we need to drive better outcomes for the people we serve."
Newfire is responsible for interfacing with T1D Exchange's product owners to understand the features to be built. The team then works together to map out and build the features, validate that the features are developed on spec, and ensure the features are deployed to other secure, HIPAA-compliant environments without violating internal policies.
The speed and efficiency with which Newfire got up and running impressed Ball and his CTO. And the team hasn't slowed down since. "Other development teams I've worked with would spend 90+ days just to deliver the first minimally viable chunk of work product," says Ball. "The engineering velocity we've seen with Newfire is so much better. We're moving much faster and hitting all our MVP goals."
"I also appreciate their commitment to openness and full transparency," he adds. "Some development teams like to work in a black box. Newfire makes it clear what's going on inside, and that's refreshing."
For its part, Newfire finds it refreshing to work with an organization fighting for the millions of people worldwide with type 1 diabetes. A quick look at Newfire’s process.