Thinking

Agile in the time of COVID – Innovation in the health sector – part 2

Our earlier blog illustrated the initial ways in which the agile methodology, that we practice and preach at Clarasys, is currently being used to combat the effects of COVID-19.

Our earlier blog illustrated the initial ways in which the agile methodology, that we practice and preach at Clarasys, is currently being used to combat the effects of COVID-19. Starting with the fundamentals laid out by the Agile Manifesto:

 

“Individuals and interactions over processes and tools

Working software over comprehensive documentation

Customer collaboration over contract negotiation

Responding to change over following a plan”

 

We looked at how individuals from Dyson, and software from Decathlon, are interacting and working in the agile way that we promote at Clarasys. So how is customer collaboration and change response being practiced to combat COVID-19 currently?

Customer collaboration over contract negotiation:

Instead of gradually negotiating ways of working to come to an agreement; instead of bargaining knowledge transfer and experience sharing; healthcare systems are coming together through the creation of a new collaborative network connecting global healthcare workers. The new platform, PanSurg, works to bring together all clinicians, surgeons, and academics that are working on improving frontline care during the COVID-19 pandemic. Their mission: to share experiences, knowledge, policy, data, and research to increase efficacy and safety for surgical patients in real-time.

PanSurg is reminiscent of the agile scrum method, where the core team works together, and with stakeholders (in this case patients), to deliver the project vision. Just as the application of this agile methodology emphasises the importance of regular face-to-face meetings and check-ins / updates, PanSurg encourages virtual conversations and communications regularly. Regular webinars, a forum for healthcare workers to ask / answer questions, a repository for communal resources, and conversations to enable rapid information exchange and constant dissemination of knowledge globally. Such approach to collaboration is, at its core, agile and unprecedented in global healthcare yet offers hopeful insight for how collaborative practices could be cemented in the future:

“We don’t know what the future is going to hold,” said Miss Seema Yalamanchili, a Clinical Research Fellow who is leading the webinars for the PanSurg working group. “But we hope PanSurg highlights the role of keeping research agile and the benefits of facilitating discussions between frontline staff in such situations.”

Responding to change over following a plan: Vaccine creation

All of the above undeniably shows how different individuals, organisations, parties, and countries are collaborating, working together, and focusing on the ‘immediate now’ to respond to the dramatic changes and huge threat caused by the pandemic. A final example of how far the response to change has been taken, how current focus is on instant response rather than following a tried and tested plan, is in the work undertaken on creating a vaccine. 

Using a new approach of ‘plug and play’ vaccines, scientists are lifting small parts of the genetic code for COVID-19 and putting it into other harmless viruses to inject these into the body, encouraging the body to begin producing proteins for the immune system to learn how to fight. This response to change shows new, improved agility and focus on immediacy rather than planning far in advance. The very fact that it took researchers almost 20 months to create a vaccine for humans after the SARS outbreak of 2003 compares to a very quick turnaround for the first COVID-19 vaccine, expected to be ready for clinical trials any day!

To summarise:

As the above examples show and the earlier blog highlights, the current response to COVID-19 enacts the very principles of Agile that we, at Clarasys, promote. The fantastic, on-the-ground work that’s being done by individuals, organisations, and continents at large, acts as the embodiment of Agile working and offers us the best hope of combatting this virus.