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Episode 6: Let’s Talk about Agile (ft. Becca Hiller)


Welcome to Episode six of Let’s Talk about Healthcare, a podcast about the challenges and opportunities, the good and the not-so-good, and the moments of joy found all over our healthcare system today.

Today, we talk to Becca Hiller, Agile Coach at ProviderTrust, about how she accidentally fell into the field, the difference between an Agile Coach and a Scrum Master, and Agile’s “complicated relationship” with healthcare.

A Fall into Agile Coaching

Although it was by luck that Becca fell into agility coaching, the truth is she has always been passionate about humans, systems thinking, communication, and how all of them operate collectively. “A lot of it is helping people get out of their own way to deliver great value.

“A lot of the purpose of having a Scrum Master or an Agile Coach is to look at the people side of things and say, hey, maybe there’s a different way that you can solve this problem. Let’s get people connected.”

Agile and Healthcare

“To me, agile and healthcare go hand in hand so beautifully, because a lot of what

we all care about at the end of the day, is equipping ourselves with facts and information so we can make really sound decisions.”

In Becca’s experience, when folks in healthcare hear the term agile, some already have heavy baggage, thinking that it’s a theoretical and esoteric thing, that you can’t bring down to earth or make it practical. When you start to peel back the layers, almost every agile framework in practice is based on what’s known as an empirical process, which is making decisions that are based on data and experience, not just on emotions. “To me, that aligns so well with healthcare, because when we talk about healthcare and responsible delivery of healthcare, we have to be concerned with the impact and efficacy of what we’re doing. It’s literally life and death.

“If agile and healthcare were in a relationship, and they had their status online, it would be it’s complicated.”

Implementing Agile Methodologies

Becca explains that the most important thing in helping healthcare companies better adopt agile is that they understand documentation, change management, and thoughtful approaches to process are still in agile. “We just have a faster cycle of feedback, typically, in an agile world. So it’s more an opportunity to give feedback and to check in and see if it’s working or not.” 

One of the key tools in the Agile Coach or Scrum Master toolkit is to observe first, get a feel for reality, and build trust with the people involved. It’s important not to dive right in, making suggestions and decisions right out of the gate. 

“It was just that change of getting the right people in the room. So that the individuals who would be doing the work could hear firsthand what success looked like from the perspective of the product. And it all became a scenario where it was no longer operating like two very separate teams. You had technology and business operating together to deliver high value for users and clients.”

The Future of Healthcare

“I think the thing that brings me joy that I’m seeing some real glimmers of hope around is also the same thing I want to see us move toward and change and that is, higher levels of equity and accessibility and healthcare. I think a lot of what this current pandemic has shown us is that we have strides that we’ve made with things like, let’s say telehealth as a great example, where we’re able to make healthcare more accessible across multiple socio-economic lines and geography.”

Listen to the previous episode

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