Wednesday, March 26, 2014

SBRI Challenge And Our Healthcare Project

We are delighted to announce that Adit Limited has won proof of concept funding under an SBRI (Small Business Research Initiative) challenge and we are looking forward to working with Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board to complete this important project over the coming months and years.

The “press release” goes like this:

Health And Patient Treatment Information Centre (HAPTIC)

The SBRI challenge to enable nurses to spend 10% more time with patients in direct value added care struck an immediate chord with Adit Ltd. The challenge lies in implementing a major change to systems and procedures on a busy ward, in contrast to the more usual static office environment. This requires something different, even if some of the foundations are familiar. HAPTIC will deliver user (patient and staff) friendly systems to support an environment thriving on constantly changing priorities and clinically urgent interruptions. 

HAPTIC will ensure that patients and their carers are always at the centre of the solution by delivering a consistent set of services at the nurse station and at the bedside. Using light, modern tablets for bedside delivery to the nurse, patient or carer, backed up by intuitive software that maximises the support given to the nursing team, with minimal input or break in the work-flow. Through HAPTIC, Adit Ltd identified opportunities to apply modern location technology and precise patient identification as a start point. Building a resilient software solution founded upon accurate, and up to the minute, patient data then became realistic even in this challenging environment. Focused, interactive applications enhance the user experience, enables near real time patient feedback and facilitates co-production of care.

Our project seeks to add value at every step ensuring that the nursing and medical teams make the gains they need to deliver enhanced patient care.

What we really want to communicate is just how pleased we are to working with a great team at BCUHB and how much we are looking forward to blowing them away by demonstrating just what we can do to enhance the ward routine and assist them in improving patient outcomes.

Now comes a ton of hard work as we have a remarkably short time slot to deliver on our promises with sample software and technology evaluations. It is going to be an exciting ride.

Monday, March 24, 2014

More Data

Pushing software engineering boundaries can involve many different approaches. There is no overarching way that always leads to success.

If the fields of robotics and Artificial Intelligence (AI) more data and in particular better quality data can trump a lot of work on sophisticated algorithms.

We have a project that needs to grab all of the potential efficiency gains there are going. One obvious candidate is to implement a predictive text feature - you know, where the software predicts what you are going to type next and offers one or more suggestion. However some careful thought showed that this might not be the low hanging fruit it first appeared to be. It will be vital in many instances that any text suggestion be correct - not making a suggestion would be better than offering the wrong one. This is an area where extreme accuracy is a key safety issue with, potentially, people's lives on the line. If there can be many very similar words or phrases but in circumstances where those similar pieces of text have different meanings or might describe different things then we have to face up to the fact that we have to be right 100% of the time.

We think this can be achieved by widening the lexical and semantic nets and supporting the analysis of a great many words and phrases to achieve the objective.

I am sure we will post more on this topic as we develop and refine the techniques we end up applying - in the mean time it is another area we need to carefully research. Others may have trod this path before us. Plus we are going to need a lot of quality data to run trials and tests on.

Full Stack Startup

I was reading a post by Chris Dixon which may well have coined the term "Full Stack Startup" - you can read it here

I am sure he will forgive my quoting:

Suppose you develop a new technology that is valuable to some industry. The old approach was to sell or license your technology to the existing companies in that industry. The new approach is to build a complete, end-to-end product or service that bypasses existing companies.
Prominent examples of this “full stack” approach include Tesla, Warby Parker, Uber, Harry’s, Nest, Buzzfeed, and Netflix. Most of these companies had “partial stack” antecedents that either failed or ended up being relatively small businesses. 
Now this interested me greatly as we are working on a (soon to be announced) project where we have taken the view that we need to address the whole problem domain in order to deliver a complete solution. To do that we may well need to incorporate partial solutions worked up by others but overall we see ourselves as offering a "full stack". There are commercial advantages to be gained here alongside the clarity that stems from keeping the whole development area in view.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Agility - now there is a thing

I was reminded by a recent post by Dave Thomas, who was one of the original publishers of the Agile Manifesto, that the movement started from some very simple ideas.

 These were:

  • Individuals and Interactions over Processes and Tools
  • Working Software over Comprehensive Documentation
  • Customer Collaboration over Contract Negotiation, and
  • Responding to Change over Following a Plan

but Agile became a noun and then a product. In most instances it became a "Cargo Cult" where the IT departments used the right words and symbols but did not understand how to get things done or even what the purpose was.

Despite the enthusiasm of so many developers (cultists included) many of us looked askance at this new "magic bullet" and waited for it to pass the way of so many predecessors. This is a shame as the initial ideas were all about delivering what the end user needed rather than what they (or their managers) said they wanted and frankly that has always been what I have been about.

Dave Thomas has now re-defined the concepts for a re-boot as:

What to do:

  • Find out where you are
  • Take a small step towards your goal
  • Adjust your understanding based on what you learned
  • Repeat

How to do it:

  • When faced with two of more alternatives that deliver roughly the same value, take the path that makes future change easier.

Now that I can sign up to. It is how I work day to day - with or without a particular customer or user in mind. Consider me a post-Agile developer.