team-work-agile-development
Co-production

Agile Development and Co-production

27 Apr, 2017

In the second part of our co-production series we take a look at Agile Development, another productivity tool that assists in changing the work based mindset and encouraging a more efficient approach to organisational development and changes.

The Shift From Sequential Processes to Agile Methodology

Agile methods encourage teams to build quickly, test what they’ve built and iterate their work based on regular feedback. It was introduced as a modern alternative to the traditional waterfall model.

The waterfall model is a sequential design process, in which progress is seen as flowing steadily downwards. It was used in software development processes, through the phases of conception, initiation, analysis, design, construction, testing, production, implementation and maintenance. Because it was created in a time when no formal software development methodologies existed, this hardware-oriented model was simply adapted for software development

The agile process takes a different approach. Gathering requirements, planning, designing, building and testing are conducted simultaneously. Starting small in the discovery and alpha phases make way for growing the project into something large-scale.

Benefits:

  • Productivity will improve as teams will quickly establish any challenges in certain areas of the project, since all elements are started together
  • The focus on the end users contributes to speed, value and efficiency as the team continuously have the experience in mind

Challenges:

  • Strong communication is required between stakeholders and business owners
  • The business needs to be able to adapt to changes within internal processes with minimal disruption

Co-Production in Agile Software Development

To recap from our previous blog post, co-production creates a collaborative eco-system in which all parties receive a balanced “give and get”.Similarly to agile development, it contributes to service provisions, which can have both benefits and implications. Working with end users, for example clinicians, patients or carers who can contribute regular ideas and feedback from the very end of the UX can speed up process. Distribution of power to citizens means sharing of the decision making process could actually cause delays in project productiveness, as contributors may be unable to agree upon certain elements of the tasks.
The adoption of co-production within an agile framework has some powerful benefits, and is a great example of the changing mindset within the public sector. It also provides a morale boost for teams, as they are able to achieve their goals efficiently and effectively. This is why bitjam favour such working techniques, as everybody involved – from the teams to the end user – can enjoy better ways of working. In the last of our 3 part series on co-production, we’ll take a look at a case study within an NHS department that trialed co-production and scaled agile development, and the benefits and results they received.

destiny moocs
Healthcare

Nursing and Midwifery Students Road Test Destiny MOOCs

27 Mar, 2017

Last week we visited the Nursing and Midwifery School at Staffordshire University to road-test our mobile e-learning ideas and technologies. We introduced Destiny MOOC e-learning courses designed specifically for mobile to students to expand their learning opportunities and encourage interaction with online courses via mobile.

As introduced in a previous blog post, the European Union-funded Erasmus+ Destiny project is an EU-wide MOOC platform, of which Bitjam is a partner. MOOCs – or Massive Open Online Courses – offer a novel way to provide everyone and anyone access to online education. The Destiny MOOC learning management system is based on the popular Moodle with a key focus on mobile accessibility. In case you missed it, Moodle is a learning platform designed to provide educators, administrators and learners with a single robust, secure and integrated system to create personalised learning environments.

The students who took part in the user testing were very positive about the idea around compact mobile learning experiences. One student reflected “This means I can learn while I’m on the train, neat!!”

Bitjam partnered with Erasmus+ on the Destiny Project as it provided an opportunity to integrate healthcare and education resources to expand the use of technology in the public sector. E-learning courses made purely for mobile are shaping the future of education as they’re easy to use, accessible to all and provide tools for learning that can be carried around in pockets and used on the go. Destiny is particularly useful for health and social care learning as it’s also a noticeboard for news and updates, such as details about local relevant study clubs.

Bitjam’s role has ranged from gathering and analysing MOOC data, developing the web platform and recently developing the Mobile friendly learning management system. Creating a platform that is easy to navigate and creates a strong UX has been crucial to the success of this project.

Healthcare

How Healthcare providers are empowering Patients with technology-enabled Care

27 Feb, 2017

The NHS is currently undertaking a £40 million three-year programme to bring the “Internet of Things” into healthcare. Focusing on simple yet effective solutions that can be easily adopted by the masses, digital health is set to revolutionise healthcare services for both patients and providers. “Older patients and people with long term conditions and mental health problems will be among the first to benefit from a major new drive to modernise how the NHS delivers care” – NHS England January 2016.

Here are 3 examples of existing solutions where we can learn about the benefits and potential challenges faced when scaling up these solutions.

Electronic Prescription Service

The Electronic Prescription Service (EPS) allows prescriptions to be sent direct to pharmacies through IT systems used in GP surgeries. Eventually EPS will remove the need for most paper prescriptions.

Benefits

  • Patients can collect repeat prescriptions directly from a pharmacy without visiting a GP
  • paper prescriptions will become obsolete so can’t be misplaced
  • Patients will spend less time waiting in the pharmacy
  • The service is reliable, secure and confidential

Challenges

  • It could cause confusion as the patient isn’t given a physical prescription. In many cases the carer and patient use the paper version to easily manage medications in the home
  • Less digitally able patients could find the process more stressful as they may perceive less control in the process of ordering medication
  • Any issues resulting in prescription details being incorrect or not sent to the pharmacy could result in wasted trips for the patient. This could be the result of human error in the system

Appointment booking software

Patients are now able to access their medical records, book appointments and order repeat prescriptions from their electronic devices with apps such as Patient Access.

Benefits

  • Allows patients to access local practice services online
  • Reduces the need to make phone calls to the surgery
  • Repeat prescriptions can also be booked online using the same system

Challenges

  • Convincing patients that the service is safe is a challenge for service providers
  • Not all current web services have good enough design for a good user-experience
  • There are still a number of users (healthcare providers and patients) who might not have access to a computer or lack the knowledge to use the service
  • Some online appointment booking services require large browsers rather than mobile or browsers on tablets

Wearable Technology for Diabetes Patients

K’Track Glucose from PKvitality is the first wearable tracker that allows diabetics to self-monitor their glucose levels without the need for cumbersome and painful blood-based tests. This sort of technology gives patients control over their condition and allows for more discreet management.

Although diabetes affects 1 in 11 people in the world, it’s reported that 80% of people on treatment do not monitor their blood sugar often enough. The K’Track Glucose is a solution designed to tackle the reasons why patients might be neglecting their health. The wearable fits in with a more modern patient routine. It’s simple to use, discreet, sports-friendly, painless and allows for easy monitoring on the go.

Benefits

  • Replace the current method of pen-like prick tests which are easy to forget and don’t provide newly-diagnosed patients with much information
  • Wrist-band devices are less invasive than needles
  • The device links easily to the patient’s smartphone so they can monitor and keep a record of their blood sugar levels

Challenges

  • Still in the testing stage so reliability is yet to be measured
  • Inconsistent adoption of technologies from the healthcare providers. Many IoT and wearable tech produce personalised data that could prove useful in managing health however this data is rarely used in consultations.

All three of these examples demonstrate the significantly positive effect that such simple solutions can have on providing patient empowerment. The impact of patient confidence over time far outweighs the initial launch costs. Such solutions should ease the pressure on healthcare resources anyway (less hospital visits required, less time spent on unnecessary phone calls etc) which will also reduce costs. The challenge lies in changing up the current structure and format to provide ability to scale up the service, provide training and ongoing support.

Bitjam are currently working with healthcare and education providers researching and exploring ways in which technology can be deployed at scale.