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How to Use Agile Development Methodology for Healthcare Projects

16 Jul 2022
How to Use Agile Development Methodology for Healthcare Projects

Wouldn’t it be great if all healthcare software developers had one set of best project management practices to streamline their work? Luckily, the use of Agile development methodology in healthcare ensures exactly that.

Agile is not legislation to follow, but rather a project management philosophy. Developers utilize it to prioritize work, effectively communicate, and adapt to rising challenges. That’s why even healthcare executives tend to integrate Agile practice in their medical systems worldwide.

Concerns in Outsourcing Healthcare App Development

Outsourcing the development of healthcare software solutions can be associated with a range of issues. They may lead to the impossibility of releasing a legitimate digital product. 

Let’s review the most common concerns in outsourcing app development in healthcare:

  • Task management issues

The medical software development pipeline is somewhat different from other industries. The necessity to protect sensitive patient data and adhere to the changing industry regulations makes the development process prone to numerous alterations and additions. This may deteriorate the tempo of the process overall and lead to frequent redoing of the work. 

  • Data security risks

As you know, sensitive personal data of patients can’t be shared with unauthorized persons. It is clearly stated in the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA). Outsourcing contractors working on healthcare projects are to prevent the distribution of information. 

Additionally, medical apps may have further levels of protection integrated. Failure to minimize data security risks leads to severe legal and medical consequences, like lawsuits against healthcare workers or physiological trauma due to data leaks. 

  • Failure to meet quality standards 

Any medical-related software solution is to adhere to International Organization for Standardization (ISO) and International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC) standards and policies. They are not obligatory, but outsourcing contractors are typically required to create software that meets them. 

  • Non-compliance with medical guidelines

After all, app development in the healthcare industry is to serve patients and healthcare professionals. It includes compliance not only with HIPAA policies but with other clinical practice guidelines as well. It may concern specificities of electrical medical records (EMR) systems, the correct use of peer-reviewed sources and evidence-based practices, and other peculiarities of healthcare operation. 

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    Benefits of Agile Development Methodology in Healthcare

    With respect to the concerns outlined above, the ways Agile methodology benefits software development in healthcare are the following:

    • Better task management. Agile reduces counterproductive actions that developers may perform. It includes discussions over already agreed steps, waiting for other team members’ confirmation, and many more. The methodology also ensures that team members have a better understanding of the entire workflow and the development pipeline. 
    • Simplified conformity to regulatory requirements. Agile helps to integrate multiple standards’ provisions into the development workflow. It leads to the elimination of errors, higher involvement of contractors, and better outcomes overall.
    • Better responsiveness to unknown complications detected. The Agile methodology considers the probability of unplanned challenges to raise in the process. Having a pre-defined set of actions to follow in case of a new challenge greatly benefits the software development process.

    Got a healthcare project on your mind and want to discuss how the PI team can help you with development? Contact us for a free consultation.

    Scrum for Healthcare Projects: First-Hand Experience

    A trusted representative of Mindbloom, an innovative mental health company, requested from Postindustria to create a fully HIPPA-compliant digital product. This mobile-ready telehealth software was intended to deliver personalized mental health plans. 

    Based on this case, let us show you an example of SCRUM — an Agile framework in practice. 

    Why We Need SCRUM Methodology

    The CEO of Mindbloom chose to use SCRUM for healthcare app development because it is the most obvious and reliable approach. But let’s review a few of the exact reasons to complete the insight into this Agile framework: 

    • Ability to deliver valuable parts of the digital product to the client for assessment; 
    • Readiness of developers to handle unplanned changes to the workflow at any time;
    • Effective deadline management;
    • Clear communication and active collaboration between team members. 

    Mindbloom followed the Objectives and Key Results (OKR) approach to project management. It allowed Postindustria to seamlessly integrate SCRUM into the company’s workflow without interfering with the headquarters (HQ) operations.

    How We Set Up Agile Development Process

    An integral part of Agile software development is communication. So in order to set up the process, there should be a concrete communication plan in place. 

    In our case, the key collaborations elements and touchpoints with HQ were held in the form of one-hour sessions, which included:

    • Weekly OKR check-ins 
    • Bi-weekly product planning meetings
    • UI/UX and front-end design sync with CEO and product designer.

    Additionally, we regularly ran clarification meet-ups, making sure that stories in the backlog were kept up to date. The project manager acted as the product owner during the development process, which secured a connection between the development team and the stakeholders.

    As for the outcomes, the engineering team delivered the valuable increments of the software solution every other week. The release process took less than five hours to complete, excluding the regression testing. 

    Key Elements of Release Procedure

    The complexity of the process required us to prepare and follow a well-thought-out release procedure. It included the following aspects:

    1. Unit tests. At this stage, we ran in-house testing to detect code errors and other technical issues that might deteriorate the app’s functioning. We also assessed such software properties as interface friendliness, ease of use, overall responsiveness, etc. 
    2. Product documentation. We wrote in-depth guides for OPS team members so that they have detailed instructions on how to work with their newly updated digital product. 
    3. Product demo. We provided screencasts of the delivered functionality to show what the developers created. This was necessary to provide stakeholders with an initial understanding of the enhanced software. 
    4. Technical documentation. Additionally, we created a set of technical diagrams and requirements covering the back-end part of the project. This helped the client’s technicians be fully aware of the digital product’s specificities.

    Efficiency We Reached

    Postindustria experts integrated into the Mindbloom company’s culture. It resulted in the substantial efficiency of the development process overall, as the following metrics show:

    • Postindustia’s development team had a 50% workday overlap with Mindbloom’s experts. 
    • An average response time for requests made during non-working time is less than 10 hours. 
    • The development process did not block the core aspects of the company’s operation, so the business was not distracted from achieving its goals. 
    • The expectations of Mindbloom stakeholders were fully met. 

    What Clients Have to Say About the Joint Work

    Postindustria is proud of all our projects successfully completed. Let us share the feedback on the Mindbloom project we received from the client:

    “We’re very happy with the work done for us by PostIndustria! The team has been responsive, flexible, reliable in their estimations, and produced high-quality work that has been critical for our business.” — Dylan Beynon, CEO at Mindbloom.

    We are confident that your business will benefit from partnering with us as well. 

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