Did you know Formidable Forms can build more than just forms? In this case study, see how Saqib Noor built a system to rival Microsoft PowerPoint!
Approximate read-time: 5 mins
Saqib Noor, founder of One.Surgery, is a Formidable power user. Previously, he shared with us how he used Formidable Forms to build a patient management system for a Cambodian hospital. A feat he accomplished while he was working there as a resident surgeon!
Believe it or not, that was only the beginning of Saqib’s Formidable tale. We’re pleased to say that Saqib built yet another unique web application worth sharing - this time for a renowned teaching hospital in Toronto, Canada. And yes - once again, he used the versatility of Formidable and WordPress.
Formidable like a doctor
When you speak to Saqib, you’ll quickly learn that there's a constant yearning to make things better - or at least try! It makes sense - for a surgeon, a low standard of work could lead to disastrous consequences. Improving outcomes is a natural instinct.
So whilst continuing his international surgical fellowship at a leading teaching hospital in Toronto, Canada, it did not take long for the gears to start spinning again.
"Obviously I wasn’t going to design a new patient management system in such an advanced hospital. Actually, I wasn’t planning on doing any web design projects at all in Canada but just truly concentrate on my surgical learning,” Saqib recalls. "But that’s the great thing about Formidable, you spot a problem and suddenly wonder if there is a better solution - then the unexpected happens!"
"Every week, the residents and fellows had to prepare dozens of clinical case presentations for teaching purposes. We have always used PowerPoint to create these presentations, as has been the traditional way of medical teaching for decades. Microsoft Office is just the set of tools we have grown accustomed to and we have somehow accepted this is the only way to create and present our teaching material to each other."
Reinvent the wheel? Why not?
A month or so into creating these PowerPoint presentations, Saqib began to get frustrated with the whole process. He and his colleagues would all create their own individual PowerPoint files, all putting numerous hours per week into creating their own presentations. On the morning of the teaching conference, it was a mad dash for everyone to upload their files. Each file was either being uploaded via flash drives or downloaded from e-mail accounts. It was chaos every time!
Furthermore, each presentation had its own set of designs, backgrounds, fonts, layouts - it was haphazard and inconsistent. And the most frustrating thing for Saqib? All this valuable teaching material wasn't even being stored in a way that future learning could take place. For a teaching hospital, that didn't make much sense.
"How would I be able to find that one interesting case that was discussed two weeks ago? How could I update the outcome of the surgery that was completed last month? It's probably embedded amongst multiple other cases in someone's flash drive in a random PPT file never to be seen again! Sharing our files was useless because we would just drop the files into a shared Dropbox or OneDrive account, stored by date of creation. Of course, this made searching and sharing individual cases extremely challenging. The result was that nobody would ever refer back to past presentations.”
Saqib was sure there was a better way. He simply did not have time to design PowerPoint slides week in, week out - endlessly dragging, dropping and cropping images, centering and re-centering words on a screen, editing font sizes, and colors - especially when these files were so impractical thereafter. Couldn’t all the design work be automated?
Saqib began to toy with Formidable Forms - was there a cloud solution that could solve this problem? The aim was to design a teaching system that allowed users to seamlessly create presentations that were good enough to rival PowerPoint, but also store them in a practical archive. "That meant the hundreds and thousands of collective hours put in to create these cases would be useful for years to come."
In essence, Saqib was aiming to replace PowerPoint and Dropbox with Formidable Forms to change the entire landscape of medical teaching. A lofty goal - sure. But after some initial trial and error, Saqib was soon on the way to creating a case library that his colleagues and department were all happy to trial!
Perhaps the most beautiful thing about this system is its simplicity. We'll start by telling you that the part where Saqib replaced PowerPoint is so simple it hurts! Using Formidable's Views feature and forms, users would fill in a pre-built form and screengrab images straight into Formidable. This data would then be automatically placed into pre-designed presentation slides using a consistent formatting schedule for all users. By filling in one simple form, it would appear as though a new slide has been created, with no design effort required. And by using some creative CSS on the front end, the Formidable views all looked like individual slides, making it seem to the user like a traditional presentation was being built.
Doctors now only needed to spend time collecting and entering their data, not piecing together a presentation file slide by slide. "It looks like you are creating slides, and although it looks like a slide, it’s actually a form, which can then be generated as a landscape PDF, ready to present in the teaching conference."
Even more impressive is the sharing system that Saqib created with Formidable. Rather than plunking every presentation file into Dropbox to be lost forever, Saqib created a searchable user interface with a ton of navigation options. Users can search for cases using a variety of methods, including advanced search, calendar views, and an intuitive menu system. All the cases can now easily be updated, weeks, months and years after their creation.
"Now everybody is using the same platform, it’s all centralized, it’s searchable, you can comment on cases, flag favorites, update the outcomes, search by staff, date, etc. In the morning, one can just log into the system and load up all the teaching cases for that day. We are no longer switching out flash drives or spending time downloading PowerPoint files from individual e-mail accounts"
"This is my best design work and most powerful Formidable system so far. We used formidable and CSS to create slides and presentations & searchable teaching cases in a beautiful and colorful way."
After a successful trial of nine months, the hospital migrated the entire library to its own internal system, behind its own firewall. And a year later, long after Saqib left Toronto, its still being used. In fact, the library now has 1000 cases stored, over 5000 media images, and over 5500 virtual slides in the cloud.
"It's incredible really, there are loads of cool features in this library. It still has a lot of flaws and many ways it can be improved, but it just shows we don't always need to follow the status quo."
“If you learn Formidable, it’s a whole new language. What Formidable does is it turns WordPress into literally anything you want.“
What’s next for Saqib?
Saqib has impressed us yet again. But what’s more impressive? The Saqib Noor saga has only just begun! If you haven’t read about his patient management system, we strongly suggest checking it out. Beyond that, Saqib has another huge project that we have yet to cover: One.Surgery. And even as we confirmed the details for this very case study, Saqib was eager to share his next project! Saqib's enthusiasm is a perfect match for the systems he builds. He's really excited about building platforms that improve user experience and break conventions.
Suffice to say, at this rate, it looks like Saqib can imagine and create web applications faster than we can write about them. We love it when our users build more than forms with Formidable. Have you got a story about a web application you built using Formidable? Submit it here.
Read more Formidable case studies
What can Formidable Forms do for your business? With Formidable, you really can build more than forms. With our drag and drop form builder, forms are just the tip of the iceberg. To learn more, take a look at all the features that give Formidable the power you need to create powerful solutions for any project you can imagine.