The Healthcare Shorts: Virtual Visit Back-up or Ad-hock Virtual Visits has prompted an explosion in conversations with customers who have the need and desire, and are ready to start now. One of the questions we get is “How do I start using this?” which is exciting, and doesn’t require advanced technical skills. In fact, there are a ton of existing posts on this blog and documentation resources have the details and samples you need to get started.
That said, it helps to have a bit of guidance on the overall steps to get started with the solution, some specific links to the posts that will come in handy, as well as some frequently asked questions. Whether you’re ready to start building, or want to just get a bit more familiar, read on!
Which technologies are involved?
When some people think of Microsoft’s cloud, they think of services like Word, Outlook, or Teams, which are basically the same for everybody. The reality is that those same customers can remix the underlying technology to meet other needs (like the virtual visit backup).
Even though you don’t need to be an expert with these, it can help to know what technologies are commonly used and the role that they play in the solution. I’ll break this into two categories, the things you can see in the video, and the things that are behind the scenes.
- Seen in the video
- Microsoft Teams – there are actually a couple of specific things in Teams that are relevant:
- Online Meetings – These are also often called Teams meetings, and is used to provide familiar meeting features like voice, video, chat, etc.
- Virtual Appointments – This brings additional features to online meetings like a waiting room, no-app-required joining options, and more.
- Power Apps – This is used to design the user experience and connect to the automation tools that do the heavy lifting
- Behind the scenes in the video
- Power Automate – This is used to take the details entered into the app to create the join link and send it out through Email/SMS
- Microsoft Graph API – This is used to create virtual visits without having to open up other applications like Teams
- Azure Communication Services – This is used to send out an SMS text.
What are the common steps to get started?
- Enable the API and prepare the connector
- Configure an app layout
- Make it your own
1 - Enable the API and prepare the connector
There is a sample connector with setup instructions available on GitHub: https://github.com/microsoft/Virtual-Visit-Sample-Connector
This type of connector allows rapid creation of applications and automations that use the Virtual Appointment API in a consistent and governed manner.
Developers can enhance the sample code with additional capabilities and features.
2 - Create an app for your team to use
In this video, I walk through building an app like the one shown in the Healthcare Short.
The technologies used in the video are Power Apps, Power Automate Connectors, Teams Online Appointments, Azure Communication Services (SMS message).
3 -Make it your own
Your app can send notifications and reminders by adding extra steps to the Power Automate flow from the previous step.
For example, you can add the virtual appointment to a calendar, or just send a teams notification to the practitioner when it's time to join.
Frequently Asked Questions
Our organization is more comfortable with Bookings instead of Virtual Appointments, can I use that?
In short, yes! Bookings has more features like a self-scheduling website, but also requires some additional setup to define meeting types, staff, calendars, and several other things.
Once you’ve set up Bookings, you can leverage it using the Bookings API instead of the Virtual Visit API. Details for setting that up are here: Create a Custom PowerApp Connector to Graph API - Microsoft Tech Community
When creating the app that uses Bookings for scheduling, make sure to include details about the Staff, Appointment Type, and Bookings business.
The URL is very long, can I get something shorter?
Yes, a URL shortener can be called as an action before sending the SMS message. Often customers look internally to leverage an existing URL shortener with their personalized branding.
One open source option that was highlighted on an Azure Fridays session was this one: FBoucher/AzUrlShortener: An simple and easy Url Shortener (github.com)