Healthcare solutions with Agile software

Two things that define today’s startup ecosystem are innovation and speed to market. If you’ve a unique idea and if you can get to the market fast, before everyone else, chances are your product will be a success. I don’t imply that these are the only two things that matter. But they play an important role in defining product success.

While some may argue that innovation and speed to market don’t go hand in hand, I heartily disagree. Agile project management is one of the ways that allows innovation without compromising on the delivery timelines.

I have been an agile practitioner for nearly a decade now. I’ve worked in different kinds of projects with different SDLC methodologies. Among them, I find Agile to be one of the best methodologies for project development. Especially in managing those projects where new solutions are required to meet rapidly changing customer needs.

Hospital Information System | Agile Health | Hospital Solutions

Let me share an example. One of our partners, Phritz, began their journey in December 2019. They started building a personal health record chatbot. At that time, they envisioned the chatbot to behave like a personal healthcare assistant that users can chat with anytime. The chatbot would even help users when they change doctors or health insurance.

However, as COVID-19 pandemic started spreading, we began to think of ways in which Phritz could offer extended support. There was a lot of hysteria among people regarding the information available about the virus. We began by thinking of ways to offer a feature in the chatbot where users could add their symptoms and the chatbot would offer answers. For instance, if you have a sore throat, the bot would give advice to take necessary medications. However, if you’ve sore throat, cold, and fever, the bot would suggest you to get a COVID test. If your test comes out to be positive, the bot also offers to inform people whom you’ve met in the past one week.

We couldn’t have imagined adding all these new features if we had chosen waterfall as a project development methodology.

Another example is from one of my recent projects. Our partners wanted to go for HIPAA compliance and secure all the protected health information (PHI) in the project. Securing PHI is an essential in a healthcare setup, so it’s critical to get this step right. This involved creating non-functional stories for securing PHI requirements, ensuring that it covers what has already been built and what will be built in upcoming features.

Since the stakeholders were in full gear with their marketing strategies and were getting the product familiar with the public, it was important for them to get the product to be HIPAA compliant faster.

Evon's Experience of Building HIPAA Compliant Healthcare Solutions

With Agile, it was easier to accommodate this new requirement. In the Waterfall way, our stakeholders couldn’t have thought about implementing this until upon reaching the first milestone.

Implementing agile not only helped us in accommodating the PHI requirements but also helped us with process improvements and clear communication with stakeholders.

These examples show that agile development helps in incremental development of the product– one that conforms to the needs of the users and solves their problems.

Agile can be beneficial to implement in healthcare projects under the below scenarios as well–

When you’re not sure about the entire solution

All great products are built on ideas that first appear on a piece of paper. It’s not necessary to flesh out an idea completely before jumping in to develop it. Strategy and execution are important but getting to the market fast is more important.

Consider Agile in healthcare as a peer to Waterfall

In such cases, agile development helps in validating the idea. You can start with just a goal in mind. Something that’s specific and measurable. For example: “The claim management software will reduce the claims processing time by 70% and improve efficiency of providers by 90%”

Once you develop a solution to this problem, put it out in the market and get customers to use it. After they start using it, collect feedback from them and improve your solution as per their needs.

When you’re navigating a complex domain

The world of healthcare is constantly shifting and innovating. Therefore, if you’re in the race to build the best product, it would no longer help you win. Instead, you ought to focus on  innovating in the services, and improving the customer experience of the product.

One of the best examples is Practo. Before the COVID-19 pandemic, Practo was subliminally known as an online consultation and medicine delivery platform. When the pandemic striked, they quickly pivoted as a telemedicine solution. Within a short span of four weeks, Practo created an ‘Artificial Intelligence’ tool that guided patients after collecting their basic information. The tool leveraged WHO protocols to profile high-risk people by asking them to share their travel and contact history.

This is just one of the many examples. In other healthcare products, you might be dealing with other regulatory guidelines like HIPAA. They make healthcare a complex domain. But with agile development, you can tackle them one at a time.

When there are multiple stakeholders/decision-makers

Healthcare product development might involve many stakeholders and decision makers. Each stakeholder might have a different perspective and goals for the product’s adoption in the market. This might cause a lot of feedback cycles that go in loops and a lot of incremental changes in the product’s features.

Agile teams are equipped to take up new changes, prioritize the needs of all stakeholders, and help you stay on track with rapidly changing requirements.

When you want to improve quality and reduce costs

In healthcare products, there is an unwavering focus on doing things quickly and shipping out features for the world to use and give feedback. Innovation matters the most, along with agility. But funding is limited and you can’t wrap yourself under the garb of innovation. Therefore, features must be rapidly tested. The focus is on failing fast and adapting to the users’ feedback.

In this scenario, agile proves to be the best method. The 2-week/4-week sprint works best in shipping out features that can be tested with the real users.

When product’s scope is variable

In the waterfall approach of product development, the scope of the project is fixed while team members and time can be varied. That is, if you’re halfway through a project when you realize you’re going to miss the timelines, then you either add more team members or extend the timelines. This increases the cost of development and causes delays in reaching the market.

One of the best things about agile development is that here time and people (team members) are fixed whereas the scope can vary as per requirements. It means that once the scope is defined, it’s not the dead-end of discovery.

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If after the first sprint’s release you get feedback for adding/removing/improvising features, agile accommodates it. It might impact your final deadlines, but it would still be somewhat near to what you had planned.

Some other advantages of agile teams is that they are more capable of making day-to-day decisions, independently. With a defined and structured process, they can also thrive in different geographical areas.

However, the agile processes are not easy to imbibe. Ceremonies like backlog grooming, sprint planning, need a lot of discipline to execute. I learnt it on the job with the help of my leaders. If you’re a new product manager, I would suggest you to read some good books on agile project management. The Lean Startup by Eric Ries and Sprint: How to Solve Big Problems and Test New Ideas in Just Five Days are two of my favorite books that can help you get married to the idea of agile development.

Reasons Behind Successful Phishing Attacks

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Phishing is one of the most infamous cyber attack vectors that is widely adopted by attackers for luring victims to reveal their sensitive and confidential information. Phishing attacks are generally carried out through the medium of emails.

Attackers forge fake emails with malicious links. Once the link is clicked and the victim submits its credential, the attacker gains unauthorized access by misusing those credentials. Hence, the victim gets phished.

History of the Emergence of Phishing Attacks

The history of phishing is quite old. It has been prevalent since the good old days of the 90s. America Online (AOL) was one of the top internet service providers during the mid-90s with millions of visitors every single day.

Attackers or ‘Phreaks’ (yes! That’s what attackers used to call themselves. Fancy, right?) started trading pirated software over AOL and formed a ‘warez’ community.

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This community stole AOL users’ passwords, created random credit card numbers, and spammed users.

This process was automated with the help of windows software AOHell. Once discovered, AOHell was shut down by America Online.

There are many cases that have been reported and even more that have not been reported. On average, 1.2 million phishing attacks occur annually. According to security research, phishing attacks almost doubled to 482.5 million from 246.2 million in the year 2017. Statistics show that phishing accounts for 91% of all cyber attacks.

Why do Attackers Use Phishing Attacks?

Large User base

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One of the biggest reasons for the success of Phishing attacks is the widespread use of emails. At present, there are around 2.6 billion email users and this number is expected to cross 4.2 billion by the year 2022. Susceptibility rate of phishing attacks is quite high as attackers can easily find out email addresses, send phishing emails, and there, it’s done.

Humans are the weak link

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The other big contributor to the success of phishing attacks is the victim itself. These days, social media has become a huge part of people’s lives. People are putting out their entire lives online. Attackers can easily access the personal information of the victim through a social networking platform that helps in creating personalized phishing attacks (also known as Spear Phishing).

Lack of awareness 

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Lack of security awareness among employees is also one of the major reasons for the success of phishing. Organizations should be aware of how the benefits of security awareness training can secure their employees from falling victim to phishing attacks.

In recent years, attackers have shifted their focus from individuals to employees within the organization. Statistically, 90% of the cyber attacks are the result of employee negligence. During the year 2018, a 76% increase in the number of phishing attacks was observed.

54% of the companies had experienced one or more attacks that compromised their IT infrastructure and data. According to the survey done on 19,000 people, approximately 97% of the people are unable to identify such attempts.

Leniency in the adaption of security measures

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The leniency in the adaptation of security measures is one of the biggest reasons for the success of phishing attacks. Studies have shown that organizations lag in spending money on the implementation of cybersecurity measures. During the year 2018, 51% of the organizations have made no change to the budget allocated to ensure cybersecurity.

These reasons play a huge role in the success of such attacks. Therefore, it is extremely important for organizations to implement cybersecurity practices and understand the benefits of following security measures properly. Cybersecurity companies like Anteelo , ensure that your network and infrastructure are secure from cyber attacks. Anteelo offers industry-leading cybersecurity solutions and tools such as cyber attack simulation and awareness tool, email authentication and anti-spoofing solution; anti-phishing, fraud monitoring & take-down solution; phishing incident response, VAPT and secure code review.


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