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Understaning Scrum in a Hospital Environment

Last post 07:33 am June 5, 2023 by Eugene Jacquescoley DO PhD MPH
4 replies
04:47 pm May 30, 2023

Hospitals are complex, dynamic institutions. That are confronted with change more than often. Can Scrum methods like Collaborative Mindset work effectively in this environment. Keep in mind, hospitals have understood what cross-functional teams for quite some time. 


09:31 pm May 30, 2023

Organizations will very often resort to agility and empiricism in an emergency. Then, once the situation stabilizes, they will return and without sense of irony to the old practices which demonstrably failed them. I'd suggest that examples of this might be found even in a hospital setting, and if transparency can be established over them, they might then be dealt with. Politics will typically obfuscate the situation.

09:48 pm May 30, 2023

Here is a case study on how a hospital has adopted Scrum.  

02:58 pm May 31, 2023

My wife works in medical labs.  At one of her jobs in a hospital, they asked me to help them implement Scrum.  I worked with them and was able to implement some agile practices but Scrum was not a good fit for them.  Remember that Scrum is meant to be used in iterative segments.  What I found is that most of the work that they did in their laboratory was more repetitive than iterative.  Sure there was variance in each lab sample results but ultimately it was mostly the same job being done each time.  The complexity in their job was not the work that needed to be done. It was the analysis of results and determining next steps. 

I was able to help them with to better understand empirical controls and thought process which helped them to start looking for ways to improve their work.  They were able to eliminate certain metrics that they collected because they determined that they were not providing benefit.  They became more effective anticipating next steps based upon past results.  There was no longer a mentality of "run all of these tests". It was replaced with "run these tests and then determine what should be done next".  

The doctors and nurses were pleased because they started to see better information which helped them to provide better care for their patients.  Administration was pleased because they started to see less waste of resources, better throughput from the laboratory.  The lab technicians felt less stress and were happier with their work because they felt more like an owner than a operator. There was also a much smoother transition between shifts because it wasn't handing off work, it was handing off information so that the next shift could determine their own work. 

This is just an isolated instance though.  As the case study provided by @Eric points out, I believe there are opportunities for Scrum adoption in a hospital setting but it would not be appropriate for all areas.

06:45 pm June 4, 2023


Thanks for your  input. You're correct about lab procedures are repetitive vs. iterative. I'm happy that you were able to shed some light empiricim et process controls 


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