How This Telehealth Startup Connects Patients & Dermatologists

Faced with a tight deadline and a product that necessitated a secure chat, here’s why healthcare startup MatchLab AI chose to build with Stream’s Chat SDKs.

Dermatologists rely on visual assessment to diagnose and treat skin conditions, and since most patients have a phone with a camera in their pocket, telehealth tools that enable patients to capture and send images of skin lesions to their doctor seem like a no brainer. But to gauge the size, growth rate, and types of skin conditions, digital images must be perfectly standardized. It is tough to get an accurate picture.

MatchLab AI, a startup based in Cambridge, Mass., aims to improve patient access to dermatologists by developing a virtual examination app that leverages AI algorithms and image analytics. The tool is designed to help doctors accurately diagnose and treat their patients without seeing them in person.

Faced with a tight deadline and a need for in-app chat, MatchLab AI CEO Nick Rance explored third-party tech providers, and learned that his team qualified for Stream’s free Maker Account. Here’s how Stream’s messaging API and SDKs are helping Rance get his telemedicine app off the ground, and into the hands of patients and doctors.

Why did you need in-app chat functionality in MatchLab AI?

We like to say that we aren’t only an AI company; we’re a communications company. What we really are aiming for is a seamless, ongoing conversation between patients and their doctors, a new care model that AI algorithms are helping us to realize. Rather than speaking with your dermatologist for 15 minutes every six months, MatchLab AI aims to empower patients and providers to communicate regularly regarding the course of a patient’s condition or treatment.

In dermatology, that means sending images, text, and emotions through technology. In-app chat functionality is an integral part of our product.

What led you to integrate a third-party API chat solution rather than build one in house?

We only have three engineers on our team, so every work hour matters. Before exploring chat options, we had just secured a contract with a major research hospital, and we had a tight six-week deadline to get our product working optimally with chat. One of the hospital’s technical requirements was an in-app chat function that met all of the security requirements.

We knew we would not be able to build a chat that we were satisfied with in such a short timeframe. Additionally, integrating a third-party solution allowed us to focus our engineering hours on our product’s core AI implementation.

How has the chat integration process been going?

The integration has been going well! We used the Stream Chat React Native SDK and the Python SDK for our backend.

It took two days to get the chat working in our app using the React Native UI Kit. Now we’re working on restyling the UI, and customizing display images, group chats, and more. We’re excited to launch this functionality soon!

After evaluating other chat providers, why did you choose to integrate with Stream?

We had two requirements when we were looking for a chat platform.

One big factor was ease of implementation. Chat is something that could potentially take a lot of time from the other functionality we need to build. It was very important that chat wouldn’t take us away from our core mission.

Second, we needed a chat platform that could easily implement encryption. Of all the chat platforms I saw, Stream had the best balance of developer ease of use and extendability to security. I feel very pleased with our decision to use Stream.

In what ways does Stream help MatchLab AI achieve its overall goals?

Stream’s APIs provide the communication power that we want to integrate into our platform. We’re helping influence the future of what healthcare could look like. Does the future of healthcare mean you can send a message to your doctor saying you missed work because your psoriasis flared up? Could your doctor respond with empathy and a new clinical recommendation or appointment slot? Will having this back and forth between you and your doctor help you find the best treatment more efficiently and with less headache? Finally, will this paradigm scale such that we can help the millions of patients suffering from chronic skin conditions get the care they deserve?

Stream allows us to answer these questions. If you are trying to build something that needs a chat feature and you’re either budgeted up on time or resources, Stream is the fastest, best way to go that’s also most extensible.

We plan to continue to use Stream as our chat provider as we scale.

Ready to learn how the Stream Chat API can help your product thrive? Sign up for your free Chat trial.