Are Agile approaches useful in designing for health?

Agile, Scrum, Google Design Sprint – concepts that stem from software development. These days you will find them everywhere where people from different backgrounds come together to develop products, services, and communication. If you work with programmers or designers, you will almost certainly be familiar with these methods.

It is not yet clear whether these approaches also work for the development of health interventions. The difference being, you don’t ‘just’ need user research, you also want to build on scientific theory and evidence. This paper (and poster presentation) contributes to answering the question whether Agile approaches also work for the development of (digital and analog) health interventions.

Our case study shows such an approach may indeed be a feasible method for the development of health interventions. The process allowed for a high pace, we managed to develop a full prototype for a toolkit consisting of 7 mini-interventions in just two design sprint weeks, and we had good stakeholder inclusion.

Some limitations also occurred, and they give rise to some take home messages:
The agile approach favours speed over rigour, which makes it difficult to integrate user research and scientific evidence in the development process.
Make sure you have done all necessary research (literature, co-creation, user research) beforehand and that everybody has good access to the insights
Multidisciplinary cooperation remains difficult because experts and stakeholders are hardly ever available for the full sprint period.
Try to have everybody onboard. If that is impossible, make sure you ‘book’ experts for the appropriate moments in the sprint
Finally, the difficulties in documenting the process and results of the agile approach limit its use in scientific projects.
Make sure you appoint one person who is in charge of documenting every- thing; make sure everybody has time for reflective journalling

The published paper about the case study is available from the Design4Health2020 conference proceedings
The poster and presentation from the 2020 CBC Digital Health conference are available at its OSF page

4 jaar ago