vielife Embraces New Technology To Enhance Health Assessment Program

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Summary:

Health and well-being (HWB) services provider vielife has taken an agile approach to upgrading its Web-based HWB service and management information tool, with the help of Agile consulting firm Valtech. Due to the nature of the agile process, the team was able to make adjustments to development of the next generation portal along the way, adapting to changing business requirements and ensuring that each phase met expectations. As a result, vielife has been able to increase flexibility of the service, has the capacity to deploy more interactive health behavior change programs, and has gained better overall management of the system. This article discusses the project and how vielife has benefited from using agile processes.

Background
vie
life has 20 years of experience in providing employers, health insurers, and governments with integrated and accountable online and offline HWB services.The benefits are healthier and vibrant people, leading to increased productivity and reduced health care costs.Using a unique evidence-based approach that integrates four critical areas of HWB - sleep, stress, nutrition and fitness activity - vielife identifies which "people"; issues drive organizational performance and helps employees and employers manage HWB through programs that are directly linked to business drivers.

vielife' Web-based HWB service {sidebar id=1} and management information tool provides individuals with confidential interactive assessments of their own health and well-being, practical information, and proactive intervention programs. Organizations get knowledge tools and aggregated predictive data that provides a HWB fingerprint of their business.

Enhancing the Offering
Due to the success of the current version of the vielife portal, the company made the decision to expand the capabilities of the service further by completely replacing the underlying sofware architecture and adding many new product features. Accoring to Damian Stafford, CTO at vielife, the tailored nature of its offering means that the underlying IT architecture needs to be able to process complex content and algorithms in order to produce individual reports. This involves taking into account a very wide range of factors such as age, weight, sex, attitude to risk, gender, eating preferences, allergies, illnesses, sleep patterns, work life, and family life. In order to add to the capabilities of the current version, vielife needed a much more scaleable, flexible platform.

In order to put this framework in place, Stafford and his team partnered with Valtech in the design and development of the next generation health portal– vielife 3.0. It decided to work with Valtech as the company uses the agile development process. This means that instead of providing Valtech with the entire project specification up-front to design and build, vielife was able to be involved every step of the way, tackling objectives one by one and taking account of the business's changing needs during the life of the project. Indeed, vielife's own technology team was already using the agile project method Scrum, so it was a natural step to work with a partner who also uses an agile method.

Introducing New Technology
Key requirements of the new platform were the ability to provide more targeted advice through behavior change programs and to enable more flexible interoperability with the health services applications of other organizations, especially those of clients. Being able to offer a state-of-the-art, highly-personalized and customized service with sophisticated branding to vielife's users was also important.

Development of the platform started in June 2006 and vielife 3.0, which consists of new technology and enhancements to the existing product, will be delivered this month. Using the Scrum project method, which breaks development work down into highly-focused three-week-long periods, or sprints, ensured that the business was able to review progress, assess priorities, and be flexible with requirements. This process of regular engagement with key business stakeholders such as vielife's chief health officer helped to ensure that what was being developed was fit for purpose and addressed the needs of the end user at the completion of each phase.

The decision was taken to build the next generation portal on a .NET rather than a Java platform. In order to provide the personalization required, now and in the future, Valtech worked with vielife to test and ensure that the chosen technology platform, .NET 3.0, was capable of providing the basis on which to build a rules engine and

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