Digital transformation is disrupting our world both personal and professional. Today we are living through an unprecedented period of change. The current pandemic has accelerated digital transformation – necessity is the mother of invention [Plato, 427–347 b.c.] – leaving many of us working from home, while patients are attending virtual consultations, and clinical teams are collaborating across organizations through internet hosted conference calls. Whether we are using traditional modalities or digital approaches, we need to pause and think about what is different and how to harness the greatest value from digital healthcare for both patients and clinicians.
While the technological world has grown up under the “move fast and break things” mantra, medicine instead takes the “do no harm” approach. Such differing approaches to innovation have meant that while startups and technology organizations still have lessons to learn when it comes to developing tools that address patient outcomes, the medical world must also grapple with the rapidly changing technology of the digital age. The rise of data and digital leaves the healthcare industry with no choice but to consider the relationships between technology and patient outcomes. The objective is to make patient outcomes of digital health asking how digital technologies can be used to build highly reliable organizations for the future, and how new digital technologies can deliver benefits to both clinicians and patients.
Agile methods and tools are making a difference in digital healthcare transformation.
Despite the impetus to change embedding and accelerating innovation in healthcare has proven to be difficult. In healthcare, most current processes of governance, business planning, and information technology implementation are designed to minimize risk to organizations and are often inflexible in adapting rapidly to new technological changes, netting incremental changes that fail to deliver much-needed transformation.
To address this complexity and speed up effective innovation, healthcare organizations should look at adopting a novel set of principles, initially developed within the software industry, called “Agile.”
We have found that using Agile for important transformative projects has enabled several healthcare, medical technology, and pharmaceutical organizations to begin to effectively adapt and adopt innovation in patient experience, clinical workflows, and digital health technology with the ultimate goal of improving care. From accelerating enrollment in clinical trials through re-designing care delivery to coding clinical information systems, we see organizations rapidly driving value with Agile. Because the core tenets of Agile include addressing the needs of customers (patients) and embracing change, we see Agile being useful beyond projects related to information technology and into other health are domains such as organizational strategy and clinical operations.
Notably, Agile methods are not limited to technology and innovation projects but are also valuable for clinical care redesign. Agile could be used by business teams to rethink the care pathways, starting from and working closely with: patients, their families, and communities to ensure a care experience that is tailored to their goals and needs. The Agile approach provides means to explore, integrate, and adapt to new and emerging scientific knowledge and tools, as well as the chance to respond to changing patient and family needs and expectations to create a truly adaptive, responsive caring system.
Benefits of using Agile methods and tools in the healthcare, medical technology and pharmaceutical industries.
Agile encourages decisions to be made at the point the team is the wisest, and not before, and brings transparency to projects so risks, progress and delivery can be caught and addressed earlier. In Agile this is achieved in sprints. Sprints are a defined period of time where the team focuses on delivering a set of product features. Sprints can vary in duration depending on the project’s needs; we’ve found that sprints of two weeks in duration usually work well when developing healthcare software. By using sprint boards (tool used by the team to organize and express the status of the work in the current sprint) issues are moved from one status to the next as they are being worked on providing transparency.
Additionally, Agile minimizes wasted time and effort by encouraging a focus on what needs doing next rather than lower priority tasks. Prior to the execution of a sprint, sprint planning ensures that the entire team gathers to plan the activities that will occur during the sprint. The team commits to a set of user stories that define requirements and acceptance criteria for a feature or scenario from a user’s perspective. In addition to sprint planning a backlog list captures all the prioritized user stories or features that details what is required to build the product. The product owner ‘owns’ the backlog list, and prioritizes all of the user stories within it, making trade-off decisions based on the product vision and the business needs.
Agile also reduces bottlenecks through self-organizing teams who take on shared responsibility; they win together and lose together. Daily stand-ups are very short daily team meetings where each team member shares what they are working on and if they are blocked. With more minds at the table, comes more ideas to solve any roadblocks experienced. Also, sprint retrospectives at the end of every sprint allow the team to gather and review the sprint identifying areas that went well and things that could be improved upon. This guarantees that the team continuously review what they are doing and what they can do to improve their processes.
Finally, Agile focuses the team on a shorter term. Focusing on tangible deliverables over grand plans that rarely realize benefits. At the end of every sprint, there is a demonstration, where the team has the opportunity to demonstrate the work they’ve accomplished. Sprint demonstrations also provide an important opportunity for the product owner to deliver feedback and make adjustments to the work achieved during the sprint. This feedback process saves healthcare organizations a lot of time and money from having to correct mistakes or make changes/improvements after a solution has been delivered, typically seen when working using waterfall.
Overall, the Agile method better accommodates changing requirements and feedback during the development process without the need to start over or slow down development. Traditional approaches such as waterfall require everything to be deﬁned in the beginning. Whereas, Agile sprints present an opportunity to incorporate development process or product feedback and to release a working component rather than waiting for the completion of the full solutions.
How are you managing patient outcomes across your organization? – Join our healthcare event on June 30th
Join us on June 30th for an exclusive Valiantys’ Online Panel Talk designed for thought leaders across healthcare, medical technology, and pharmaceuticals organizations interested in managing the challenges of patient and clinical outcomes in the implementation of digital healthcare.
With the participation of industry leaders, this interactive session will focus on how organizations use Agile methods and Atlassian tools (Jira, Confluence) to rapidly develop software, technology, products, and clinical services that deliver highly reliable quality outcomes.
Meet our panel of industry experts that will be sharing there insights and answering your questions in an informative session
Public Health EnglandHarvey is Head of Digital Products and Transformation at Public Health England and a specialist in leadership and change management having held transformational leadership roles in both the private and public sectors, more recently leading the application of new technologies and adoption of the behavioural change required to realise the benefits of digital transformation.
Corey is squad leader for the ISO13485 engineering quality team at Genomics England. His role is senior project manager, but also technical design, software development, and business analysis. His current remit at Genomics England is to review all of their engineering practices, from software requirements to development and testing, such that they as an organization can perform continuous delivery for the NHS.
Agile Health Informatics Ltd.Tito is Principal Enterprise Architect and Data Management Consultant with Agile Health Informatics, which he founded after 30 years’ experience of development of IT and data management services in biomedical research and clinical practice. He is Associate Vice-chair for Standards with BCS Health & Care and a Chartered IT Professional.
|Averil Franklin Stewart
System C Healthcare
Averil has over 20 years’ experience of working with and for the NHS. Averil manages both ISO 27001 security and ISO 9001 quality certification and has recently successfully achieved ISO 27018 – Personal Identifiable Information in the Cloud. As a SAFe certified release train engineer and product owner; Averil has implemented and coached hundreds of users through Jira & SAFe best practices.
What can Valiantys do for you?
Valiantys is the leading global consulting and services firm dedicated to Atlassian. We accelerate business transformation by digitizing processes and modernizing teamwork, using the best Agile methods and tools. Our Atlassian technical expertise is unparalleled and we support our customers across the entire spectrum of their projects on those platforms. Because teamwork requires more than just tools, we help them bridge the gap between their applications and strategic practices such as SAFe and ITIL. Over the last 15 years, we have helped in excess of 5,000 customers to achieve their desired business outcomes at a reduced time to value, through improved team collaboration.