health:CODE Interview with Mikael Siirtola, GE Healthcare

Mikael Siirtola
Lead Test Automation Engineer, GE Healthcare

Mikael Siirtola
Lead Test Automation Engineer, GE Healthcare

Mikael Siirtola is specialized in designing and implementing DevOps-methods to IT systems. His primary interests are in applying continuous integration, test-driven development and acceptance test automation to solve issues in scaling agile development. While Mikael has vast experience in various programming environments, his interests lie more in boosting the software production and helping organizations to improve their productivity.
At the health:CODE in Berlin Mikael will moderate the World Café session: “Scaling Test Automation to Support DevOps activities”. We spoke to him and got many interesting insights about his role and the DevOps transformation journey at GE Healthcare.

we.CONECT: Welcome Mikael, I guess we should start but asking what is DevOps and agile software development and why is it important to the way we do our business in the health sector?

Mikael Siirtola: Agile and DevOps are tools to handle changes in rapidly evolving environment promoting collaboration and human interaction. It helps to react quickly to changing environment. DevOps practices such as test automation helps us to create quality products faster and cheaper.

we.CONECT: DevOps and certainly agile has as an approach has been in existence for a while now, why is it then that it has taken so long for it to be established in health?

Mikael Siirtola: My guess would be that the tools have taken time to mature enough to be used in highly regulated environment such as healthcare.

we.CONECT: So when you decided to drive a DevOps agenda at your company, I guess this was a pretty big deal and required a complete new way of relating to people and business?

Mikael Siirtola: Well we are improving constantly the way we work here at GE so even though we have invested in DevOps it was change as usual. We find out a probable better way, experiment around it, implement it and learn from it.

we.CONECT: What are your current challenges and where do you see yourself going in the next five years with agile software development in your company?

Mikael Siirtola: DevOps is still a relatively new thing in healthcare and there is still much to improve. Creating compliance increasingly automated is still an area that offers lot to explore.

we.CONECT: I guess being mid-way in a DevOps transformation journey, you probably have a lot to share in terms of knowledge and experiences that other people considering DevOps in the Health sector would love to know. What advice would you have for a healthcare organisation, medical device company or pharma company looking at their options in terms of how to deliver software services and considering using an agile or DevOps approach?

Mikael Siirtola: Start small. Do lot of small things and find a way that works for your context. DevOps is a better way of doing software development but it is no silver bullet that will solve your problems. It is another toolbox to perform better.

we.CONECT: You have decided to get actively involved in our health:CODE project which will be launching the first ever specialist conference for software excellence, agile and DevOps in the health industry this November, what are your drove you to want to get involved and what do you hope to achieve by participating in this program?

Mikael Siirtola: I find that sharing information is best way of improving and learning. I look forward to meet other experts in health during the conference and collaborating with them.

we.CONECT: Can you tell us a bit more about what topics you will be coving in your session in Berlin?

Mikael Siirtola: Test automation in healthcare and some tips what things should be considered when doing test automation in our field. How to scale the test automation to big products and keep the whole system maintainable.

we.CONECT: Thanks for this background and I’m sure the participants will really benefit from your insights during your session. Before we wrap this up, is there anything else you would like to add about the conference or about software services in health generally?

Mikael Siirtola: Healthcare business is in transformation with DevOps practices and the ones that can create the best digital factories will be the ones that will gain great market advantage by being able to deliver safe products faster and cheaper.

we.CONECT: Well, it’s been a pleasure speaking with you today Mikael and we look forward to meeting you in person at health:CODE in Berlin.
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