Developer Spotlight: How Vishal Vats used the Dropbox Sign API to create ReferMedi

Rosie Cunningham
March 27, 2023
minute read
Developer Spotlight: How Vishal Vats used the Dropbox Sign API to create ReferMedi
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Vishal Vats is the winner of our best business value prize. His single platform ReferMedi helps hospitals, healthcare providers, and patients to collaborate to create a better process for patient referrals and record maintenance. Check out his full submission.

At age 22, not only has Vishal Vats participated in over 30 hackathons, he’s won more than 15—enough to cover his college fees for his computer science and engineering degree at J.C Bose University in Faridabad, India, with the winnings.

“It all started during COVID. We were completely locked down, so I tried participating in a hackathon event. Initially, I thought that even winning $100 would be great—my first hackathon was $100 prize money and I was very elated to win. Then, after participating in national events, I tried various international events on discord and various sites.”

Headshot of Vishal Vats
Vishal Vats - Hackathon Winner

The birth of ReferMedi

Following the success of his first hackathon, Vishal came across another hackathon that incepted the idea for Vishal’s winning Dropbox Sign hackathon submission. “There was an international event in India that had a medical-related problem statement. There was a grey area where doctors’ referrals were not being correctly handled by the hospital system. I wanted to enhance the referral system.”

The result was ReferMedi, a tool that managed the patient referral process for hospitals. And since building the initial ReferMedi platform, Vishal has continued to improve its functionality through other events. “I got involved in a few more healthcare hackathons, picked up their requirements, and integrated them into ReferMedi.

Today, ReferMedi has grown into a platform that helps hospitals, healthcare providers, and patients create better processes for patient referrals and record maintenance.

Integrating three instances of the Dropbox Sign APIs into ReferMedi

Vishal saw the Dropbox Sign Go Paperless hackathon as an opportunity to add signing functionality to ReferMedi while strengthening authentication and improving security. “I wanted to make the authorization stronger. I also wanted to give hospitals the power to sign documents. Because Dropbox was providing their premium subscription to the participants, I was able to use the immediate signing template and all of the features.”

With patient referrals being a form-heavy process that required both doctors and patients to manually fill out and sign documents, Vishal identified many uses for the Dropbox Sign API and Dropbox Forms API—deciding to integrate three different instances throughout ReferMedi.

The first API integration was for new user registrations. “Whenever a new user is registering for ReferMedi, a Dropbox Forms API call is made, and a signing request is sent to the user.”

To make this happen, Vishal used a basic Dropbox Forms agreement template that can be accessed by either patients or hospitals. He then created a PHP script to grab the corresponding fields and workflow id, participants id, and merge fields array.

He then used another PHP script to capture the signer’s response, which forwards the user to the correct place. And finally, he used a callback handler script to run the API endpoint to create a zipped version of the signed document, which is then unzipped and stored locally on the server for future reference.

Next Vishal used the Dropbox Sign API to improve referral requests. Initially, ReferMedi’s referral request form used a custom email template, not an external service like Dropbox Sign. “This was exposing private data values which were hampering the app's integrity. So, I incorporated Dropbox Sign to ensure that the eSigning functionality helps me.”

a screenshot of refermedi and the intake form created

To integrate the Dropbox Sign API, Vishal had to store information in a tubular way in the database. And because there are 8 merge fields on the new referral form, he created a PHP script to pass the data for the merge fields to the database and set up the callback and redirect URL. Another PHP script then collects the users' choice—whether the agreement has been accepted or rejected.

Finally, because doctors need to know patients’ medical history—such as allergies, severe injuries, etc.—Vishal used Dropbox Sign to collect information from the general patient questionnaire, rather than asking patients to fill in a static PDF or paper form.

For this integration, Vishal created a PHP script that makes calls to the Dropbox Sign API and gathers information like metadata, custom field values, and other SQL commands. Another PHP script then ensures that the local version of the signed questionnaire is available so both the doctor and patient can view it.

A bright future ahead

After graduating this year, Vishal is interested in pursuing a career as a software developer for either a large multinational corporation or a growing startup. He’s also interested in emerging technologies like AI and blockchain. “I'm inclined towards machine learning. In college, I worked on a project that used machine learning to reuse water. We used IoT devices, which were controlled through Arduino, to help with water conservation. As well as machine learning, many startups are shifting from the current web to web3. I am thinking that blockchain will be a good option for me and I’m interested to see where it leads.”

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