How Supervision Assist integrated a “set-and-forget” HIPAA-compliant data flow

Supervision Assist is a web application for managing mental health practicums and internship programs. They required a third-party solution that would take on all the data management and effectively handle a large number of files while keeping sensitive data protected.

Supervision Assist is a B2B SaaS product that helps university coordinators manage students’ training programs in behavioral health and related fields. This cloud-based application centralizes student data and streamlines the supervision process. Working in the healthcare space, Supervision Assist is compliant with HIPAA, US legislation establishing data privacy provisions for safeguarding medical information. The data protection allows users to securely share documents as well as live and recorded counseling sessions.

Dr. Stephanie Bell, Assistant Professor at Delta State University
Dr. Stephanie Bell, Assistant Professor at Delta State University
Supervision Assist has helped our Practicum and Internship classes go almost totally paperless. It streamlines the supervision process by allowing us to keep everything in one place.

Supervision Assist manages to achieve a lot with a relatively small team of less than 50 people. With such limited resources, they need to apply their engineering efforts judiciously and with a strong focus on solving customers’ problems effectively. What the team doesn’t have is time for building and maintaining custom internal tools to solve generic infrastructure problems like file handling.

Maximillian Schwanekamp, CTO
Maximillian Schwanekamp, CTO
We can build internal tools, but we’ve been finding that the maintenance burden is just not worth it. We end up having to spend more time working on stuff that is not our application. So, we’ve decided to implement a third-party tool, so that they can deal with that maintenance, and we can focus on our code.

The maintenance burden is most readily apparent when it comes to more complex pieces of infrastructure. Users of Supervision Assist upload various digital files, including large uncompressed video recordings of client sessions. Supervision Assist’s developers were able to build a system for uploading large files, but they were forced to routinely deal with bugs, failed uploads, partial uploads, and orphaned files.

Maximillian Schwanekamp, CTO
Maximillian Schwanekamp, CTO
If an upload didn’t complete, one of our devs would have to go look on the web server, see what data was stored and how much was there. Individually, it’s not a big deal, but over time that adds up.

After having wrestled with maintaining their own infrastructure, Supervision Assist decided to find a reliable partner for data management. The team realized file-handling functionality was a critical piece of infrastructure, yet a painfully time-consuming component to maintain. It routinely took their focus away from the development of their application and the features needed to move it forward.

The Supervision Assist team was looking for the solution that would ensure these three elements:

Ensured data protection would help mitigate liability risks. The company was looking for a vendor with a Business Associate Agreement to guarantee that.

Supervision Assist required a time-tested system that would run like clockwork. Users had to be able to upload files of any size without getting logged out.

The perfect solution would deploy in a few clicks, have comprehensive documentation and allow the team to stick to a familiar tech stack.

When looking for an ideal vendor, Supervision Assist’s first requirement was HIPAA compliance: without it, the application wouldn’t be able to properly handle sensitive information. “HIPAA was designed to be viral. Every vendor that we work with must have a business associate agreement ensuring their compliance with HIPAA,” says Maximillian Schwanekamp.

Solution: Uploadcare Media Pipeline

Supervision Assist’s users often upload uncompressed video files of recorded sessions in MP4, MOV and other formats generated by cameras. These large files have unique problems associated with maintaining long connections and resuming interrupted uploads.

Uploadcare’s reliable file hosting, backup and content delivery network enabled Supervision Assist to seamlessly accept files of any size and format. Users can upload any type of media, including documents, images, audio, and video. The latter can be as big as 5 TB, which means that users don’t need to bother resizing large files before uploading. Plus, Supervision Assist’s team doesn’t have to track down and resolve failed uploads anymore.

By default, Uploadcare is already secure upon launch, and all com­mu­ni­ca­tions with Uploadcare servers are encrypted with SSL. Plus, some advanced features gave Supervision Assist additional control over data flow.

The team took advantage of signed uploads to control who can upload files and when. Also, signed URLs allow users to choose who should have access to those files and when. This way, content can be rendered by authorized users only or within a specified time frame.

Uploadcare’s reliable and HIPAA-compliant infrastructure took on the sensitive data management so Supervision Assist could focus on their business.

Supervision Assist Results

In the early days, Supervision Assist tried to rely on an in-house file-handling system. Approximately 1 out of 20 uploads would encounter issues of some kind and require about 30 minutes to fix. Spending even half an hour once in a while sidetracked their attention, but over time, this would add up to more than a week, which would be better spent working on the core application.

With Uploadcare, Supervision Assist saved resources on building and maintaining file upload and delivery infrastructure. The team integrated Uploadcare and largely has been able to forget about the details. Now, when they need additional functionality, they aren’t forced to weigh the tradeoffs of developing it themselves against the progress they could make working on their application. They can focus exclusively on reaching their goals and developing new features to best serve their customers.

Maximillian Schwanekamp, CTO
Maximillian Schwanekamp, CTO
We’ve really been able to just set it and forget it at this point. All of our development problems right now are in other areas. File handling is one less thing to draw developer time away from working on our application.

Integrating a third-party solution didn’t just liberate Supervision Assist from the maintenance burden, but also improved its reliability in terms of file delivery. With Uploadcare, all the uploads go to a storage covered by an SLA and 99.9% uptime.

As part of training programs, students need to read policy documentation, plus sign and upload various agreements. To manage all of this, Supervision Assist must be able to work with a large number of digital files across a range of complex use cases. Uploadcare enabled the application to accept any file format, on any device and screen and in any browser.

Maximillian Schwanekamp, CTO
Maximillian Schwanekamp, CTO
It’s similar to Microsoft’s architecture paradigm where you have some other service on a macro level that can do the job better than incorporating everything into our app.

The biggest issue with uploads was handling large video files averaging 1.5 GB. The application lets users share and discuss counseling video sessions, which are often recorded with high-definition cameras and then uploaded uncompressed without adjusting the resolution.

Uploadcare has the capacity to support files up to 5 TB in size and can therefore take care of the heaviest file handling requirements. As a result, Supervision Assist can now accept their users’ huge files and make sure uploads are completed even if the session times out.

Uploadcare is an end-to-end cloud platform that provides a next-gen infrastructure for file handling. It can cover any part of the media pipeline or all of them at once:

  • One of the world’s fastest File Uploaders
  • Automated secure Smart Storage
  • AI-driven Image Transformations Engine
  • Proprietary designed Visual Intelligence Algorithms
  • Adaptive Delivery solution