Adopting Agile Principles In Health Care

The ever-increasing pace of technological advancements, rising costs, and new entrants into the health care marketplace are part of the challenge health care incumbents face today. With no alternative but to adapt, health care organizations must find effective methods to embrace innovation, which we define as the delivery of new patient and clinician value. Embedding and accelerating innovation in health care, however, has proven to be difficult. In health care, most current processes of governance, business planning, and information technology implementation are designed to minimize risk to organizations and are often inflexible to adapt quickly to new technological changes, netting incremental changes that fail to deliver much needed transformation.

To address this complexity and speed up effective innovation, we propose that health care organizations critically look at adopting a novel set of principles, initially promulgated within the software industry, called “Agile.” We have found that using Agile for important transformative projects has enabled several health care organizations, including ours, to begin to effectively adapt and adopt innovation in patient experience, clinical workflows, and digital health technology with the ultimate goal of improving care. Because the core tenets of Agile include addressing the needs of customers and embracing change, we see Agile being useful beyond projects related to information technology to other health care domains such as organizational strategy and clinical operations.  

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