Building an MVP of Visana's Health Insurance Referral Program in just 2 Months

Visana is one of Switzerland’s major health and accident insurers with over 848,000 private and 16,500 corporate clients. Looking to explore the possibilities of referral programs to increase their customer base, the company decided to build a minimum viable product (MVP) and teamed up with Modeso to implement this project.
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Full-cycle custom software development
A team consisting of a lead software engineer, 1 developer, and a QC engineer
An MVP of a referral program delivered fast and cost-effectively

Exploring referral tactics in health insurance with MVP development

The idea of the MVP was to encourage clients to advocate Visana's insurance services to their families and friends.

Here is how the application needed to work:

Existing customers access a dedicated link within the Visana mobile app, leading them to the referral program promising a 100 CHF sign-up bonus both to the clients who refer their friends and to the friends themselves if they choose to become Visana's clients. If users want to participate in the referral program, they get a personalized referral link to share with friends. When friends click the link, they provide basic information to register in the Visana app, expressing interest in being contacted by a customer advisor. After that, the interaction happens outside the app, with Visana's customer advisors engaging with potential clients.

To incentivize users to invite more friends to the app, we introduced a gamification feature. When the referrer returns to the app, they are notified of their successful referral and the amount of money they've earned as a result.

We employed a file-based data exchange system between the Visana back office and our application to establish this workflow. This approach enabled us to share new referrals and enable the back office to update referral statuses within our app. The decision to opt for a file-based approach instead of an API was driven by our goal to create an extremely streamlined MVP.

Our strong ties with Visana were established through our partnership with Lusee, a mixed-reality startup that used our help to build a tailored solution for transforming insurance consultations for Visana. As Visana’s trusted software development partner, we were the best choice for implementing the referral program MVP.

Our MVP development process: Key phases

The MVP of the referral program represents an in-app browser application within Visana’s mobile app. To facilitate the tracking of signed-up individuals and the subsequent disbursement of sign-up bonuses, the app relies on a file exchange mechanism for integrating with Visana’s back office.

We shaped this MVP over a period of two months, aligning with Visana’s vision of exploring customer referrals through a mobile-centric approach. Here is an overview of the main steps in our development process.


Visana’s initiative for a referral program belonged to one of their sales and marketing leads who had a clear vision of the future product. The concept involved two primary user flows:
Existing customers inviting others through a referral link.
Invited users entering their data into the Visana app.
The process seemed straightforward, and after a couple of initial meetings, we swiftly moved to implementation.

Prototyping and UI/UX design

We adopted the Lean approach, creating a basic prototype without intricate features like data export/import or complex authentication. This allowed us to focus on verifying the core flow.

Over the process of MVP development, we collaborated with Visana’s digital marketing specialists, and professionals from their customer success team to gather requirements and create the UI/UX design of the app. Through collaborative sessions, we refined the flow, validating it with several rounds of feedback, making minor adjustments to enhance the user experience, and finalizing the app’s design.

Agile development approach

Because this was a small MVP, we bypassed an extensive requirement elicitation phase at the start of the project. Instead, following consultations with the client, we quickly prioritized the most crucial aspects to rapidly implement the UI/UX design and develop core functionality. This allowed us to promptly conduct user acceptance testing and fine-tune the requirements through an iterative approach.

User acceptance testing

After each iteration, as we completed a substantial portion of functionality, we conducted user acceptance testing with Visana's team. This involved integrating their feedback and making iterative adjustments, addressing requests like adding new fields or modifying existing field types.

Our collaborative and iterative approach, coupled with user acceptance testing, sped up the development cycle, resulting in a timely and efficient delivery of the MVP.

Optimal technology stack and optimized cloud deployment

We used our core technology stack to build Visana’s referral program MVP because it matched the application’s needs and allowed us to speed up the development process given our extensive experience with these technologies. Google Cloud Platform Managed Services made things even smoother, keeping our development process efficient and on track.

Node.js and Angular

The auditing solution was designed to be versatile, accommodating both on-premise deployment and cloud accessibility. Each customer, representing a distinct company, has a dedicated system. This approach enabled a tailored, customer-specific experience without compromising the security of sensitive financial information.

Google Cloud Platform

For the deployment of the MVP, we opted for the Google Cloud Platform, using a streamlined and cost-efficient approach. Our cloud setup was designed with a focus on simplicity, optimal use of resources, and secure storage.
GCP Managed Services
Instead of using complex manual setups, we opted for Google Cloud's Managed Services – a range of specialized tools and resources that simplify cloud infrastructure management. GCP Managed Services automates database administration tasks and network configuration allowing us to adopt a serverless computing model, where infrastructure management is abstracted, and we can focus solely on coding and application logic.
One key advantage of our cloud deployment strategy was the integration of an automated scaling mechanism. This feature allowed the environments to be dynamically shut down during periods of inactivity and automatically started up when needed. By leveraging this automated approach, we could significantly reduce running costs in the cloud, optimizing resource consumption based on actual usage patterns.
Secure data storage
To achieve compliance with health insurance data processing regulations, we made sure to secure data within Switzerland's borders.

Balancing security and the speed of development

Given the sensitive nature of health insurance data, we adopted a cautious integration strategy at this early stage of product development. Directly transmitting customer data into and out of Visana's core system posed potential security risks unless implemented properly. But since our goal was to build an MVP to validate the idea of the referral program, and not to develop a full-fledged system, we decided to take a low-risk approach that could be implemented quickly – a secure and controlled file integration mechanism and not API.
The file integration operated on scheduled jobs, ensuring a systematic and organized exchange of data between our application and Visana's internal system.

As the demand for the referral program grows and its success becomes evident, our plan includes building a more integrated solution. This would involve integrating our application with Visana's core infrastructure, providing a seamless flow of information while upholding the highest standards of data security.

Result: Completed MVP and expansion to partner organizations

After a few months of work, we completed the MVP of the referral program providing an opportunity for Visana to validate their idea with customers.

The successful implementation of the MVP prompted Visana to replicate the solution for a partner organization – an independent company with which Visana maintains close ties. We were able to quickly transform the MVP into a deployable product, showcasing the application's versatility in accommodating different data sources while maintaining its core functionality.

A continuing partnership

Our journey with Visana continues after the implementation of the referral program. We are actively involved in establishing ongoing connections with key decision-makers in their digital product domain. While specific projects are not yet in the pipeline, the ongoing dialogue positions us as integral partners in future software development projects.
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