Workshop Wednesday: Agile in healthcare – introducing the Buurtzorg phenomenon

In today’s Workshop Wednesday spotlight, we consider the role of Agile in healthcare.

This year Agile Australia will include a workshop on “Simply Buurtzorg”: Philosophy in Practice with Self-Managing Teams, led by Nicole Koster, Advisor for Buurtzorg Netherlands (access an English translation to  the site here). Buurtzorg is a community homecare nursing program in the Netherlands which is supported by Agile organisation and software. The Buurtzorg Foundation delivers community and home health care via self-managing teams working without a management structure. In 2015, the organisation had 9700 nurses working in 850 teams.

The Buurtzorg phenomenon highlights the question of how Agile can be implemented in the health industry? To consider this, the blog returns to Craig Langenfeld’s contribution to the AgileTODAY Magazine (Edition #4, 2012) –

When Lives are on the Line, is Agile the Answer?

by Craig Langenfeld, Solution Engineering Manager at

With companies like Cochlear and GE Healthcare practicing Agile and bringing innovations into the market quickly, it’s no longer an option for healthcare companies to stay the course using the same processes and practices created over 30 years ago.

Agile is proven to be a better and more robust solution for the development of medical devices and other safety-critical products. At the 2012 Agile Australia Conference, I had the honor of presenting alongside Victor Rodrigues, Head of Audiology Software Development at Cochlear in Sydney. Cochlear’s Agile implementation allows them to enhance their product development process while remaining compliant with their auditors, and above all, improve the safety and customer acceptance of their products. Using this five year success, we outlined a framework for applying Agile in regulated environments.

As we partner with more companies in high-assurance markets, I’ve seen aspects of delivery that were once considered purely aspirational become a reality. Agile processes make it possible for change to be successful within a Quality Management System, and to ensure outputs meet internal and external compliance requirements.

This topic continues to gain momentum across the global landscape as companies like Cochlear and GE Healthcare use Agile to speed modernization to market without sacrificing safety. It is no longer just a competitive edge, but has become the way we build software for medical devices and healthcare products. Doing this right can be the difference between life and death. I contributed to Agile Software Development with Verification and Validation in High Assurance and Regulated Environments, written by Dean Leffingwell, which explores what Agile means in this environment.

This piece originally appeared in AgileTODAY Edition #4 (2012).

Nicole Koster

“Simply Buurtzorg”: Philosophy in Practice with Self-Managing Teams

Agile Australia 2016

Melbourne (22 June) and Sydney (23 June) 2016

Half-Day (9am-12.30pm)

Find out more about Agile Australia 2016 and register here.



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