Guest Article: Shakespeare in Namespace, or why Blue Button took off as fast as it did

I had the privilege of working with Dr. Peter Levin as an outside technology strategy adviser while he was the Chief Technology Officer (CTO) of Veterans Affairs during the first Obama Administration. Peter’s a hard-charging, fast-moving, take-no-prisoners style senior technical executive; he was an entrepreneur, professor, and engineer long before he came into government so it was no surprise that he was able to accomplish a great deal during his tenure as the CTO of VA. ...

Writing safety critical software using an agile, risk-based, approach should be the norm in modern medical device development

I first started using and mentoring developers on agile software development techniques like eXtreme Programming (XP) and Scrum over a decade ago. Often called “lightweight” methodologies, agile software development lifecycles have been generally misunderstood as lacking enough rigor and sophistication to be used in safety-critical systems. Many have erroneously assumed that Agile, Scrum, and related methodologies can’t really be implemented in risk-focused “important” industries like medical devices because they believe only classic waterfall will be accepted by the FDA. ...

Guest Article: Achieving product simplicity in healthcare offerings is hard but possible

_I’m a geek and proud of it — I love building software, launching new products, and am a fan of others that do it well. Recently I ran across the Berlin-based team from kenHub, a site focused on teaching anatomy online and helping medical students prepare for tests. I reached out to the team to ask them how they were differentiating themselves from the many other solutions available they said their goal was to simplify the process of learning using new didactic concepts to focus on memorizing and gamification elements to make it fun and engaging. ...

Protect yourself from Shadow IT, embrace “good enough for HIPAA” secure cloud services like Box and Skydrive

It’s a common misconception that if executives at hospitals or practices don’t have time to deliver sophisticated IT solutions to their users that users will just wait patiently and hope that solutions will arrive someday. However, there is a larger Shadow IT movement in many clinical settings than senior executives are willing to admit. Given the wealth of cloud offerings available, many of which have better security in the cloud than some on-premises “clinical” solutions, Shadow IT is growing and will cause more problems in the future as we try to reign it in. ...

How do you decide which features to add to your software?

Given the well-warranted focus on design these days it’s always difficult to find the right balance between features that we should add to our software and those that we leave out. I was running a class recently on how to build product roadmaps for health IT apps / medical device software and the question of how we should decide which features to add came up. Here’s are just a few of the facets I talked about during that lecture: ...