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Scrum for healthcare EHR configuration

Last post 05:20 pm February 15, 2016 by Andrzej Zińczuk
3 replies
09:45 pm September 29, 2015

Hi All,

I am an IT manager at a mid-sized healthcare network. We have an electronic healthcare record system with several application modules that are tailored to each organizations needs via configuration. It's not straight "coding", but is essentially a second layer of configuration. The configuration decisions can be complex with lots of different combinations and workflow designs. I have a strong interest in trying to apply agile, specifically scrum, methods in this setting. We have several application modules and teams that support the modules. The teams are typically < 7 folks and they have a deep understanding of the module across the team. I have one huge hurdle:

1. Product Owner selection. In a hospital, you typically have clinical workers, their managers and their directors. These positions often do not lend themselves to working outside of their environments, which are complex. We are the internal IS department and we few these folks as our customers. An example would be pharmacy. They certainly aren't used to colocating with a development team day in and day out as their other responsibilities are the primary focus. There is no "account manager" in a pharmacy shop to reach our and represent the pharmacy user base. To add another layer of challenge, we have 8 hospitals and 4 different directors of pharmacy. How can we establish a single point of contact that can represent the entire pharmacy application as the Owner - working with the application team daily and writing stories on behalf of the pharmacy business unit(s)? Have you seen this be done in a hospital setting? If so, how did it work (or not work) for them? There is a real benefit to making this work, just as it works in other settings, but healthcare seems like a unique and complex challenge for us in IS (IT). Still, we have tremendous challenges with developing what the users really want and communication is less than desirable. There must be a way to establish stronger feedback loops and adopt some of these principles.

01:56 pm October 2, 2015

Maybe try asking all of those people you mention, if anyone of them a) have the required knowledge and b) want to play the role of product owner and c) have the time to dedicate to play the role.

Another, slightly more risky scenario is to start building what you think they want and show it to people. Generally, they are very quick to jump up and tell you if it looks bad or good, but quite often don't know exactly what they want before hand.

02:10 pm October 2, 2015

> How can we establish a single point of
> contact that can represent the entire
> pharmacy application as the Owner - working
> with the application team daily and writing
> stories on behalf of the pharmacy business unit(s)

That's not what Product Ownership is about. If the developers are skilled enough, they can write the user stories.

Your Product Owner is the person who is responsible for the ROI of the product, and the maximizing of its value. This can be measured many ways but whoever the PO is, he or she must have a clear view of it and an ability to relate it to the team. The PO would be expected to work with the various stakeholders you mention, and may be internal or external to your own organization.

05:20 pm February 15, 2016

Can you become someone like PO for your team? Trying to organize, sort out and order items in backlog to allow them deliver?

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