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October 25, 2016

An Agile Approach to Healthcare

by Chris Wheelahan

On Wednesday, October 19th Brigham Innovation Hub was joined for our October Innovation Hour by Jeff Sutherland – the inventor of Scrum and co-author of the Agile Manifesto. As a West Point graduate, former Air Force aviator, mathematician, computer scientist, massively accomplished entrepreneur and physician, Dr. Sutherland spoke not only about how his experience led him to develop Scrum (a flavor of Agile), but also about its importance and applicability in all industries and in healthcare in particular. He asked at one point, “What if a department like orthopedics implemented Scrum and treated 50 percent more patients with better quality and outcomes?”

Agile originated as a software development approach but has been applied to other forms of product development, project management, and even education. Small groups self-organize and work on manageable chunks of agreed-upon, priority work. It includes a feedback loop component where teams can say “what’s working, what’s not working and what have we learned?” This iterative component thus defines and directs the work, rather than a big project plan created at the beginning of the initiative. Scrum adds a component of time, the “sprint” concept during which teams commit to a certain set of deliverables.

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What Is Digital Health?

Digital health includes but is not limited to; connected devices, data analytics and machine learning, wearable technologies, electronic health records, apps and their entire ecosystem that can improve healthcare by saving consumers time and money while helping providers deliver more efficient care to patients and communities.

With digital health we can start catching healthcare up with many other industries, while also disrupting medicine by employing new thinking and tools to solve problems and improve care delivery.

Lesley Solomon Headshot

LS blog signature final

Lesley Solomon, MBA, is the executive director of iHub at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, where she collaborates with clinicians and industry partners to create new, innovative digital health solutions.

Brian Mullen, PhD, is an Innovation Strategy Manager of iHub at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, where he supports clinicians and researchers in the innovation process and works to develop innovation processes tailored to fit the AMC environment.


Bev Hardy is an Innovation Strategy Manager of iHub at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, where she facilitates development of products and services from clinician and researcher-driven innovation.