IHS Workforce Development: Going Lean to Understand Needs
Providing the Indian Health Service (IHS) workforce with training and education in important clinical and public health topics is critical in meeting the needs of a population suffering from significant health disparities. Through interviews with multiple frontline staff including nurses, behavioral health professionals, physicians and emergency management specialists, this team deployed the Lean Startup methodology to develop a website prototype that allows professionals to rate and review training and educational material which can be accessed by their colleagues.
John Shutze (Project Lead), IHS
Bruce Finke, IHS
Scott McCoy, IHS
Harry Brown, IHS
Project Lead’s Approving Supervisor
Tim Ricks, Director, Nashville Area Office, IHS
Providing the Indian Health Service (IHS) frontline workforce with health training and education is critical in meeting the needs of a population suffering from significant health disparities. The Nashville Area Office of the IHS has professionals working in small, rural, Tribal and IHS facilities across the eastern half of the United States. When these professionals seek information, their problem is not that they are unable to find information, it’s that there is too much information.
This team used Lean Startup methodology to better understand the problem and build towards solution. Through interviews with multiple frontline staff including nurses, behavioral health professionals, physicians and emergency management specialists, the team found that staff is often unsure whether or not certain trainings are worth the time and effort to attend. The team developed a web-based solution that creates a feedback loop from frontline staff to Area Office staff. More specifically, the solution would allow staff to rate and review training and education material shared by Area Office staff. It also provides a mechanism to assess value of information as staff can see the ratings and reviews from their colleagues.
Having completed their prototype, the website is currently under construction with the resources offered by the Digital Services Innovation Center in the General Services Administration. The project will continue to progress and we will pilot test the website with a small group of users with a narrow focus of topics including tobacco cessation, blood pressure, and Alzheimer’s disease.
HHS Ignite is the IDEA Lab’s incubator for Department staff with ideas on how to modernize government. Selected teams are introduced to startup methodologies for problem identification and project implementation. In the entrepreneurial spirit, Ignite projects are iterative, their impacts measurable, and their solutions scalable. This is one of 13 projects that participated in the beta year of Ignite which ran from June 2013 to February 2014.
Status Update: 3 Months Later
As part of Ignite’s approach to evaluating it’s effectiveness, each Ignite team is asked to provide information on their project status three months following their pitch. The IHS team indicates that there is some time being devoted to continuing the effort, though there are other items of higher priority. According to the project lead: “The Ignite experience was great! Among other things, I’ve connected to folks outside of my OpDiv and applied new knowledge (e.g., Lean Startup methodology). I continue to be interested in Lean Startup and Design Thinking/Human-Centered Design and how folks are applying these methodologies in government.”