Although the Spondyr API was first released in early 2017, the Spondyr team has a long history of innovative development in the correspondence and delivery space. Our exposure has been focused in the health care industry, which is heavily regulated and frequently audited due to the presence of protected health information (PHI) in the letters that are sent.
Our development team was a key part of an enterprise care management application that served over 26,000 physicians and 2,000,000 patients. The original letter generation module used in 2001 was simplistic but it worked to generate millions of letters over the years. It contained a simple templating system that allowed patient data to be merged with HTML templates. The system would automatically generate the correct letter whenever an HMO authorization was approved or denied based on the patient's health plan and other characteristics.
Both templates and rules were maintained by the development team and IT, but the weaknesses of this system became apparent as the number of users increased. Support requests for the letter module would arrive frequently. Clients would request new custom data fields to be exposed in templates, or request template edits to fix formatting issues or just add new content. Delivery issues would also occur; sometimes the fax server would crash and occasionally files to be printed and mailed would crash mid-generation.
As we continued to sink time and effort into the letter module, we decided the module needed to be rebuilt with the goal of freeing up our development and customer support teams from the influx of support and enhancement requests. We searched the market but didn't find any existing systems that would fit our complex requirements. So we decided to build a new letter system from scratch...cue ominous music...
The new letter system was designed to be much more flexible than its original counterpart. All data fields were defined dynamically so that custom fields for each client could be easily added to the system. Templates were converted to using an on-line HTML editor so that business users could control the formatting and content of their templates. The templates themselves now supported embedded logic conditions using any ASP.NET command or library. The rules engine was made more flexible and exposed to business users for editing as well. We even added a letter "preview" feature that allowed users to see the results of a generated letter within seconds so they could make changes before it was finalized and delivered.
Most of these features were a big win and greatly eased the burden on our development and support teams. However, one big weakness was exposed over time. The new template system, based on HTML, was unable to support the complex formatting required by our clients, such as headers, footers, and accurate page counts. While we did our best to add these features to the system, it was a headache using the limits of HTML at the time.
The above experiences laid the foundations for Spondyr when four of us decided to spin up a new health care business together. As we developed new applications, we realized that they would need a similar correspondence module. We leveraged our previous experiences and built an even better solution for our own use. We realized from day one that this module needed to work in conjunction with multiple applications, so we designed it as an independent, but internal, service that each application could leverage. We also built a new template engine based on Microsoft Word so that business users can be comfortable with the editing process and rely on the precise formatting and layout capabilities inherent in Word.
Leveraging our new letter module, we realized that integrating a new application could now be done in a matter of hours rather than weeks. This led to the idea of spinning up Spondyr as a separate business. It took us a couple months to prepare our internal service for release into the wild, but we did it. In 2017, we released Spondyr to the world. Beyond just an API, we provide the template and rules administration capabilities that empower your business users and free up your development and support teams to focus on your core application and business logic rather than building correspondence plumbing.
Based on customer feedback, we have added additional types of correspondence and delivery since our launch and will continue to work hard to expand our service in new and innovative ways. We hope you enjoy what we have done so far.
-- The Spondyr Team
Spon*dyr: n. short form of corre *Spond* ence and *D* eliver *y*.