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Backpack Health

Backpack Health got rid of their post-it notes and chose Shortcut to improve collaboration across departments



Company Size



Dover, MA

With the Backpack Health app, users can manage their health information, including symptoms, conditions, lab results, and more, in one centralized interface.

According to Brett Collinson, Senior VP of Product, “We want everyone to have all the information about their health that’s relevant to them. We don’t want more proprietary silos of information about you that you don’t have full access to or can’t bring together to create a single, consolidated picture of what’s happening with your health.”

Dealing with people’s health and medical data requires precision and coordination. Backpack Health uses Shortcut to keep it all together.

Using Shortcut from the Start

Backpack Health has been using Shortcut almost since their company was established. “A few of us had worked together previously, and we’d used a number of other tools. This time, we wanted to find the happy medium between something with structure and something with a good user experience.” With his design background, Brett loved that Shortcut was clearly designed with UX in mind.

Another reason they decided to use Shortcut was that it fit with their particular workflow.

So many of the tools are so constrained to agile development and methodology; so if you don’t use that, or use a hybrid methodology, it feels like the tool is punishing or shaming you. We wanted something with just enough structure that could be adapted to how we work, without us having to fall completely in line with the driving philosophy of the tool. Shortcut fit that really well.Brett Collinson, Backpack Health's VP of Product

Collaborating Across Departments

The Backpack Health engineering team uses Shortcut to manage their tasks, but they don’t just use it for the development track — they also use it for the product team, their “user journey” department, and general task management across the organization.

Their product managers and designers find it useful to be able to easily check the Status page or the Stories board where the developer work is at for any given effort or period of time. The Shortcut Teams feature has made it even easier to carve out different views for different functional areas, instead of having to force all teams into workflows that poorly reflect their work styles and realities.

For example, Kate Celauro, VP of User Journey, used to have a post-it notes problem.

“All of my work chores were written on post-it notes and recycled at the end of the day (or week, depending on how long it took to get things done!). But now, I keep work related tasks in my own Shortcut Team project, which is great because all of the supporting information around those chores can be there for context.”

She’ll attach Google Docs related to the work, or copy email information into the body of the Story. These “chores” often require ongoing work, and this way, Kate can keep an ongoing record of the sites and resources she’s looked at, have all of those resources at her fingertips when she needs them, and find notes or resources through the search function.

The other two people on her team use Shortcut in similar ways, and Kate says it’s great to have visibility into all of the work that’s happening on the team, coordinate chores, and help each other out. And, as a bonus, when something gets moved over to the Done column, they can refer back to it later if need be…no more digging for that old post-it note.

Enabling Asynchronous Communication

As a remote team scattered across all of the U.S time zones, Backpack Health has to be mindful about when they need asynchronous communication versus immediate communication, and that’s where Shortcut has been a huge help. Getting in the habit of writing comments on Shortcut Stories, instead of leaving them in Slack, helps everyone stay on the same page because those comments are easier to find later (and aren’t lost in a backscroll, for members not in the same time zones).

Says Brett, “We’ve worked hard on creating structure around that, and it’s helped our team members — particularly engineers and designers — have large blocks of uninterrupted time, which is hugely productive.”

Using Shortcut to manage their remote team and all their processes over the last year, they’ve been able to build Backpack Health for iOS, Android, and web, in five different languages. More people than ever before can manage their health information because of this. Moving forward, they’re excited to continue using Shortcut to grow the list of things people can do with their Backpacks (along with growing the team!).

Using Shortcut lets the Backpack Health team stay in sync across teams and time zones. Now, they can stay focused on what matters most, empowering their users to harness their medical information and manage their care and well-being.

Says Brett, “We think it’s vital that everyone be able to bring together all their health information in a place they own, and easily share some or all of that information with whoever they want. Building easy-to-use software to store and manage health information is complex and Shortcut helps us manage that process so our small team can work as efficiently as possible and make a real difference in people’s lives faster.”

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