Having been accepted into the Vitaccess family in the early days of April, my first port of call was to get acquainted with my new colleagues. The team is small – a fact that attracted me to the company in the first place – and each role is therefore assigned to no more than a handful of individuals. Amidst the excitement of the first few weeks, I was intrigued to get to know the task force behind the design and delivery of the apps that define the company.

In the past year and a half the Product team, headed by Jon Spinage, has more than doubled in size. The company has grown its team of developers who work in tandem with project managers, business analysts, designers, linguists, and quality assurance analysts to deliver apps focused on patient-centered outcomes.

The process kicks off with a scoping exercise exploring some fundamentals: What condition are we looking at? Why will real-world evidence be meaningful in the study of this condition? Which features will address the target audience’s needs?

Using this information, the team can widen the net and begin the ‘discovery’ phase. The initial ideas are fleshed out through research and analysis, and in-depth discussions with the client – this process eventually informs ‘definition’ of the ideas and a specific set of requirements: namely, content and visuals for the apps. This is then fed through to the developers, who use this information to build the apps.

The traditional and outdated method for product development is called ‘Waterfall’. According to this process, the requirements are outlined for the developers, who then go away and build one final product to deliver to the clients. This final product may be riddled with issues that are difficult to unpick at the end of the line, or the product may not quite match what the clients wanted in the first place.

By following an alternative process – ‘Agile’ – developers can sidestep any such messiness. A prototype generated according to this practice is developed, tested, and refined in bitesize chunks. Any issues with the product or inconsistencies with the client’s requirements can be picked up at each stage of the development process, thereby streamlining the journey to a successful final deliverable.

Producing a digital health tool that matches the client’s requirements is a lengthy and elaborate process, calling on expertise from every team in the company. The possibilities for contributing to the means of managing patients’ conditions make it a worthy commitment of time. I can’t wait to get stuck in!

By Fatemeh Amini

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