Bonnie Marko, Vice President of Product for LogistiCare-Circulation, LogistiCare
Non-emergency medical transportation industry offers a window into workflow dynamics. The digital landscape that is integral to almost all business and industry today continues to evolve exponentially, and for companies to maintain a competitive edge, workflow practices must keep pace. The coordination of technology and staff workflows at all levels of the corporate structure, and the ability to refine the paradigm to meet changing needs, is a solution that is easier said than done.
Every company should maintain a holistic view of where technologies are headed and what advancements in workflow are coming. By investing in new innovations, companies can keep their products and services relevant.
A few years ago, in the non-emergency medical transportation (NEMT) industry it seemed as if, almost overnight, all organizations had moved their workflows to agile methodology. We are now seeing CIOs, CTOs and other corporate leaders taking a second look at its benefits. They’re developing hybrid strategies that combine the complementary attributes of agile testing and analysis with waterfall methodology’s traditional linear approach to development of stakeholder engagement and planning solutions.
At LogistiCare-Circulation, we are leveraging the hybrid approach as much in the products we provide as the way we bring resources together virtually to create them. These products are going beyond their primary purpose to generate data based on the way in which they’re used. This information may then be compiled for clients or fed back into the design as we work to improve future offerings.
Social Responsibility - It’s no secret social responsibility is having a major impact on the success of companies and their products. Whether by public or private actions of leadership, causes with which the company aligns, or how sustainable it is in production methods, consumers are paying attention. We’re seeing that these factors influence buying decisions perhaps as much as the products themselves. There is a greater conscientiousness in product design and companies are asking; “are we working ethically or sustainably enough?” and then adjusting accordingly.
Part of the social responsibility equation is evident in contracting processes. Companies are moving away from only protecting themselves to protecting relationships with third parties. It’s part of a national change in social consciousness that is making what once were considered “normal terms and conditions” archaic.
Co-Location - Still very much a growing trend, co-location is accepted within many industries, particularly those heavily reliant on technology. It has proven to be cost-effective to hire talent in less-saturated markets. A smaller workforce coming into an office means less overhead forspace and economies of scale from shared workspaces. It encourages people to move away from the nine-to-five mentality but puts the onus on companies to foster environments where everyone feels like they’re part of the team regardless of location. Workflow applications such as Slack and video conferencing capabilities are good for allowing all team members to maintain constant communication and helps employees stay engaged in a collaborative environment.
Convenience - We can group several large-scale trends under the umbrella of “convenience” - people have come to expect everything at their fingertips because of technology and mobility. The basis, of course, is the “Internet of Things” – where everything can be connected to everything else.
Kathleen Lorey, Vice President of Enterprise Optimization Services and Partnerships, Logisticare
Within a healthcare context, for example, you could have a hospital discharge system that automatically books a patient’s ride home, while also triggering a work ticket for housekeeping to take care of the vacated room. This creates challenges in development because there are so many different products, even within the same niche group. You’re getting pulled in many directions to integrate with all of them, when it is simply not cost-effective or scalable. You must pick and choose what integration points you want to pursue and prepare to defend those choices.
We are leveraging the hybrid approach as much in the products we provide as the way we bring resources together virtually to create them
As a result, the idea that you could find one thing you do well and do it better than anyone else to resounding commercial success is no longer feasible. People expect more from less, they want a great deal of functionality, and they want it to be forward-compatible. From a product development perspective, you must be mindful of all areas into which you can branch. Even if you don’t have the time and resources, make time to at least start researching the possibilities.
API - Application programming interface, is the means by which you can easily integrate with external systems to feed data from point-A to point-B in a controlled way. Having an open API opens you up to participation in the “Internet of Things” and makes it easier to be more expansive in your choice of integration partners.
Collaboration tools - The concept of bringing information together so that it can be communicated in an integrated manner across operations is a practice which is growing rapidly and there are many supporting technologies, a few examples of which include;
• Aha! - Product management tools provide a customizable interface for managing the road map, documenting future initiatives, keeping track of stakeholders, etc.
• SmartSheet - Enables users to lead their projects and generate very robust reporting through a dashboard with capabilities that are easy for others to view at a glance.
• Document repositories– Ensures there is a single point of truth in all documentation shared between coworkers.
One of the biggest challenges we’re seeing is not technology driven. It’s quite the opposite and provides a good study for the types of obstacles faced by many companies in a business environment that has proven conducive to mergers and acquisitions.
In 2018 LogistiCare acquired Circulation. Since then, Circulation has had to pivot its focus from that of a startup, feature-driven environment with a siloed platform for developing new features into the more service-driven context of LogistiCare.
This means it’s not just about extra features being developed and implemented. We have to consider how this will impact hundreds of agents using our platform in many different capacities. As a result, we began proactively engaging different departments in our design discussions. It is a constantly evolving process, but we are seeing positive results in the greater effectiveness of our feature releases.
Another challenge we face is in maintaining a rigorous pace of development. With more features expected to be delivered, and more people to organize in the combined entity, we knew we had to implement new practices. We’ve transitioned from a purely waterfall approach, where a specification is mapped out and engineering develops the features as specified, to a more agile approach, where engineers are broken out into separate teams for each feature. Each team has a product owner who consults on the designs with engineering as new complexities come to light. This collaboration has engaged engineering more on the use cases while assuring all team members are aware of the evolution of the given features and there are no surprises come release time.
For the implementation team, a large uptick in clients from multiple segments has also posed challenges. Our clients used to just be state governments, but now include managed care organizations, health plans, small physician practices, pharmacies and others who are looking to provide benefits to their members. We are working on building out an internal and external resourcing plan so that our teams have a clear view into the time, scope, and resources required for any type of project.
Defining timelines and maintaining communication with our clients and internal stakeholders is critical to the success of our respective relationships. As this process evolves, we are focused on helping our clients view the irrespective workflows and update their processes in a way that will maximize the benefits offered by enhanced technologies … it is roadmap for success.