COVID-19 is forcing the health system to be redesigned for remote virtual access of people to their medication and treatment. In this sense, it is the ideal time to apply these methodologies.
The way to implement agile methodologies in health is to put the patient at the center: consider it as the main user who demands better services from the system. This concept is known in the industry as “patient centricity”, because it thinks and acts according to your needs. Innovating in health implies that this notion has to be in the DNA of the company or institution, in order to then be able to scale in terms of appropriate tools and technologies.
The agile methodologies approach requires setting a strategic thinking focused on innovation. For this, it is key that the organization – be it a company or a health institution – can have a fluid communication between the areas and actors involved. The next step is to align methodologies with procedures “cross”, that is to say, that they go through all areas and / or units with the ultimate goal of improving processes to achieve new and better results.
A central nucleus for this process is digitization, more precisely the fact of focusing on “digital engagement”. What does this concept mean? We seek that the implementation of a digital medium (web, mobile app, Internet of things) allows to connect each actor involved, and thus, give dynamism and fluidity to the information that links, for example, the patient or family group with the treating doctor ( from a health alert, a mere control or review of information about the pathology or access to treatments, among others)
Today, the pharmaceutical and laboratory industries need more than any other the incorporation of agile methodologies to innovate, because they are industries of great weight with an endless number of protocols and procedures that have made their change and implementation times slow. The impact that the pandemic had and is having on these industries is remarkable and, at the same time, very advantageous.
Until Covid-19, the development period of an innovation drug was approximately between 5 to 7 years but today we see advances, for example, in the vaccine for this virus. In fact, they are already testing it with a small group of people, which implies a milestone in terms of time. It is worth noting that these times were shortened thanks to the fact that these agile methodologies allow to iterate, validate, and adjust to achieve the results in stages to build the product.
These modalities with greater agility are also appreciated in health professionals, who had to adapt to remote work, completely changing their face-to-face to virtual operation. Methodologies like Lean, Scrum and Kanban were crucial in these changes.
An interesting case related to this conjuncture context due to the pandemic is the one involving the company power of national respirator manufacturing and innovation company DMO Design Company. As a result of the exponential demand for respirators, agile methodologies segmented by sprints were applied to accelerate the production times of the respirators in just 2 months, when the plan was at least 24 months to go on the market.
During the transformation process of the company, an agile project was structured to carry out iterations that accelerate the processes where in each sprint the product and its brand identity were re-configured in line with the new vision of the company. It should be noted that these methodologies allow working co-creatively with other actors, in this case a factory was integrated that provides assembly and quality control support to respond to the high demand for production due to the pandemic.
All this context suggests that the moment of agile methodologies applied to health cannot wait. During these last months we have seen before our eyes that many “traditional” processes, schemes, habits have accelerated as never before and the scope of all this transformation is not alien – on the contrary, it has an almost main protagonist – to the health system.
Industrial Designer (UBA), Diploma in Business and Business Management (Univ. San Pablo), former research professor at the Faculty of Architecture (UBA), CEO of Clonify.