Last week, the Wall Street Journal wrote up a story on how Humana kickstarted its transformation to being a technology company right in downtown Louisville. Spurred by a desire to help its 13.8 million insured member base build healthier lives by putting healthcare advice directly in their hands through interactive mobile applications, the insurance giant knew that it needed to change its traditional relationship with technology. It needed to transform how they interact and learn from their members, as well as how quickly they could innovate new applications.
Basically, Humana needed to untether itself from tradition and undergo a digital transformation to become truly agile.
To do so, Humana turned to Pivotal Labs, Silicon Valley’s secret weapon for companies trying to build great software, quickly. By pairing with Pivots, Pivotal’s pet name for our fellow employees, Humana developers have learned a variety of agile disciplines, including focusing on user stories to extract the minimally viable product (MVP) in order to center development on the most important things first; embracing test driven development where you write the tests first and the code later; and paired programming, where collaborative support helps break down barriers and provides an extra layer of quality assurance built in.
Originally introduced to the company years ago, agile development has been taking root in Humana’s IT organization for some time. However, Humana’s first foray into the Pivotal Way of development was so successful, they decided to bake it into their own culture in a big way. Rather than go to Pivotal Labs for tough projects, they created their own version right in downtown Louisville.
The lab, called the Digital Experience Center, is staffed by Pivots and Humana engineers and sets a tone of teaching and learning that Humana is trying to use to infect the rest of the company. To that end, Humana is actively rotating employees from headquarters through the lab.
In operation since June 2014, the lab has released more than a dozen updates to HumanaVitality, the key app that the company uses to monitor and connect with their insured members. With releases coming every few weeks, the development team is set up to adapt to new technology platforms just as easily as evolving user requirements, enabling them to start developing an application for the Apple Watch as soon as the watch was released.
The fruits of the agile culture are appreciated all the way to the top, with Humana’s chief executive, Bruce Broussard telling the Wall Street Journal, “Humana’s Digital Experience Center brings Silicon Valley to Louisville. The DEC has a special connection with our members because the DEC is working on parts of the health plan people can use every day.”
For the full story, read Can You Put a Little Palo Alto Into an Insurer in Louisville? on the Wall Street Journal online. And, yes, Pivotal Labs will partner with your company too. For more information, contact us directly.
About the Author