Viewpoints on Innovation

Innovation Agility in Healthcare Part 2

Increasing Development Capability

Medical Device Healthcare
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As market, strategic and regulatory priorities shift, a clear decision-making and review process increases nimbleness and ability to compete. The next step for forward-thinking healthcare payors is building agile product development capabilities.

Healthcare payors face an increasingly complex environment. Healthcare executives and product development professionals are looking for ways to innovate faster so they can cope with changes and compete.

To build the organizational capability and strategic agility required to succeed, payors must focus on three key areas: strategic alignment, agile development capability and a clear understanding of product data.

Part 1 of this series focused on improving strategic alignment. By ensuring agreement, commitment and organizational focus on strategic goals and objectives at the executive level, organizations can focus product development resources on priority areas.

As market, strategic and regulatory priorities shift, a clear decision-making and review process increases nimbleness and ability to compete. The next step for forward-thinking healthcare payors is building agile product development capabilities.

Building Agile Development Capabilities

Once focused on the right development efforts through strategic alignment, scarce resources need to be optimally utilized. Today, resources often work in silos, unaware of what others are doing or even at odds with one another. Making better, more agile use of resources to deliver products to market requires clear processes and timely decision making during the development effort, as well as clearly defined team structures and departmental involvement.

Many departments need to coordinate their efforts to successfully bring innovative products to market, or to maintain and extend existing products. Coordinating and balancing the needs of these disparate groups often falls to the lonely product manager, with little positional power or defined structures to make this happen. For the product manager, engaging and balancing the needs of multiple departments at the right time can often seem like a Sisyphean task.

It's not sustainable to continuously push this boulder up the hill, just to watch it roll back down when the next product development cycle begins.

Complexity comes from the need to speed innovation to market while ensuring the new product 
is regulatory compliant, market-competitive and adjudicateable

 

There are three key elements of agile development that leading companies use to overcome this problem.

  • Common, yet adaptable development processes drive efficiency through familiarity and repetition
  • Scalable team structures with defined roles and accountability aligned to different types of innovation projects
  • Common communication approaches within and across teams reduce friction between departments, reduce errors, and speed time to market

Lessons Learned

The definition of agility goes beyond the application of agile software development methods applied solely to IT. We need to apply the close coordination and communication that are critical to these methods across the entire development team and be prepared to dynamically reallocate resources as needs and priorities change.

Through our work helping healthcare organizations improve product development agility, we’ve learned that a “one size fits all” approach to innovation does not yield good results. Instead, it detracts from the effort and reduces throughput.

Leadership must focus on flexibility and agility for best results, and be prepared to head into uncharted waters frequently to realize results. By focusing on agile development capabilities, organizations are able to reduce product defect rates and speed time to market, thus yielding a more competitive position to build upon.

Originally published on April 24th, 2012

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Topics: Andrew Nygard, Drew Nygard, Healthcare, Healthcare Innovation, Healthcare Product Innovation, Healthcare Reform, Heatlhcare Product Development

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