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GM Smokefree Pregnancy Platform — developing an innovative product

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Case Study GM Smokefree Pregnancy Platform 800X400

Introduction

Since 2018, Greater Manchester Health and Social Care (GMHSC) Partnership has been helping pregnant individuals to stop smoking with their Smokefree Pregnancy programme. The process supporting the programme was paper-based, which created an administrative burden for the staff. Moreover, it made it difficult to collect the right data and track the outcomes of the programme. 

GMHSC partnered with Health Innovation Manchester (HIM) to find the best way to address these challenges. Together, they turned to Objectivity with the task of building an innovative digital solution. The new Smokefree Pregnancy Platform greatly reduces the time spent on filling in documents and allows midwives to dedicate more time to their patients. The application’s functionalities not only address the users’ needs by simplifying their day-to-day work but also enable better tracking of the programme’s progress. NHS figures show that the smoking in pregnancy rates in Greater Manchester have dropped to the lowest on record. The platform’s success is being acknowledged also at a national level. The GM Smokefree Pregnancy Platform was among the finalists of the HSJ Awards 2021.

HIM and GMHSC built a solution that addresses their needs and can now be shared with other organisations to support the entire stop smoking system. The creation of such an innovative and functional digital platform was possible thanks to the efficient product development process that was followed throughout the entire project.

 

Product Development Process

Product Strategy Planning 

At the beginning of the engagement, Objectivity needed to gain the full picture of the business problem. The team worked directly with the users to understand their preferences, pain points, areas of focus, and everyday challenges. Objectivity also learned what the process of supporting pregnant people looks like. 

With that knowledge in mind, having considered additional factors like time-to-market, necessary functionalities, licence costs, ease of expanding the solution, Objectivity and HIM agreed on the project goals, its scope, and the technical solution. 

At this point, the Objectivity team was also ready to provide a ROM (Rough Order of Magnitude) estimation for HIM, which gave them an idea of the cost and time needed to build the product. 

Product Design Phase 

The next step was a 2-week discovery phase, whose goal was to evaluate and choose the most fit-for-purpose digital solution. 

This phase consisted of a series of co-creation workshops during which the Objectivity team worked closely with end users (specialist midwives and maternity support workers), the Product Owner, the sponsor of the project, and the technical lead. It allowed the team to fully understand the client’s needs, opportunities and restrictions. 

Objectivity used low-fidelity mock-ups and interactive boards to present the proposed solutions and make sure all perspectives are aligned.  

The discovery phase enabled the team to define: 

  • Business need: 
    • Spend more time helping pregnant smokers to quit smoking and less time on laborious admin tasks. 
  • Business goals: 
    • Digitise a largely paper- and Excel-based process. 
    • Support the entire process of providing care to a smoking pregnant person. 
    • Ensure the application is intuitive and easy to use. 
    • Provide one source of data.  
    • Collect and display the KPI information. 
  • Necessary functionalities: 
    • Calendar to manage appointments. 
    • Pregnant people’s profiles with all the required information. 
    • Specific forms to collect data needed for the appointments.  
    • Data processing according to DPIA restrictions. 
    • Dashboards to monitor KPIs. 
    • Offline mode for onsite visits without access to the internet. 
  • Technology stack: 
    • Mendix low-code platform for accelerated time-to-market. 

The discovery phase concluded with HIM’s decision to partner with Objectivity in building their Smokefree Pregnancy Platform. 

Product Implementation 

The product implementation phase took 3.5 months. During this time, Objectivity’s development team cooperated closely with the Product Owner and end users. On a weekly basis, they discussed the app’s functionalities and challenged them against the business goal. The lo-fi mock-ups used during the discussions helped to improve the overall communication. HIM valued the regular meetings and visualisations as they allowed the non-technical users to picture how the application would work.  

A lot of emphasis was put on instant validation of the delivered scope with end users. It allowed the team to verify whether the application was supporting the existing process and was intuitive and easy to use. After each User Acceptance Test, the team collected the users’ feedback and implemented the necessary changes. 

At the culmination of this phase, the application was deployed to the live environment so the end users could try it out in their daily work. 

Product Maintenance 

The product has been live and running since November 2020 and is receiving positive feedback. The Objectivity team is responsible for product support and maintenance. The team continues to work closely with end users and regularly enhances the application according to their suggestions. The newly added functions include:

  • Ordering Nicotine Replacement Therapy directly from the application. 
  • Automatic generation of vouchers for the programme’s participants.
  • The possibility to sign up for the programme online without having to meet with a support worker in person. 

As the platform continues to bring excellent results, Health Innovation Manchester decided to offer other trusts the possibility to buy and use the product. This way, even more people can benefit from its functionalities and improve their health. 

Summary 

The cooperation among HIM, GMHSCP, and Objectivity was regarded as a success by all parties. Objectivity drew from its mindset and product development framework that considers the client’s organisation structure and vision. The selected technology and team makeup allowed them to focus on the efficiency and competencies required to deliver the most suitable software. 

Health Innovation Manchester became the co-creator of a digital platform that supports its programme. This was possible thanks to an efficient product development approach applied throughout the engagement to streamline all activities and create a tailor-made solution.

 

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