NHS Digital has launched an online community for technology developers working on the integration of systems in the health service.
The platform provides a set of products and services, and a consistent experience for API consumers and producers, to make it easier to build point-of-care and patient facing applications to integrate with back-end applications and national systems. Most of the latter are owned by NHS Digital but some by third parties.
The community website includes categories for getting help, frequently asked questions and community feedback, and a function to create groups, the first of which is an ‘API management tribe’.
NHS Digital said the idea for the online community came when it carried out a survey that showed 75% of respondents, including chief technology officers, project managers, business analysts and developers, support the idea of a forum.
Business analyst for the organisation Ernest Kissiedu, whose role involves supporting API management, said “We were offering developer support to API product teams using email, MS Teams, and Slack channels. But every week, we were receiving the same queries relating to the same issues such as getting started on NHS Digital APIs, accessing our path to live environments and onboarding.
“By answering these questions in an open forum, we realised more people would be able to see the solutions to these problems.
“We want to support our developers by ensuring they have a positive experience and encourage them to use our APIs to develop cost-effective, digital services designed around the needs of our health and care professionals, patients and the public.”
Working in the open
Shan Rahulan, director of platforms for core services at NHS Digital, added: “I'm really keen to work in the open so that we can bring all the expertise and experience we have across the health and care service together. There are a lot of people outside NHS Digital whose expertise we can harness.
“We want all our users to get involved and for new ones to sign up too, to help shape the future of the developer community by providing feedback on NHS products and services.
“The long term vision for the community is to make it easier for the health and care system to access support, insight, and knowledge. By creating an open environment, we hope people in the community will come together to help each other and share their experiences.”