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Public Health England works on digital platforms



New strategy involved consolidating web content, redeveloping the intranet, creating collaboration tools and a new mobile platform

Public Health England (PHE) is working on four digital platforms in an effort to integrate technology with new ways of working and develop a set of core products.

It has outlined the plan in a new strategy document that makes clear the technology will be at the centre of its efforts in promoting good public health.

The four platforms include consolidating content from other organisations’ websites, notably those of the hundreds of bodies from PHE was created. This will involve more than just moving over the legacy content to PHE’s pages on GOV.UK, and will require some work on user needs and the redesign of sites.

Over half of legacy sites have now been moved, but many of those that have a lot of relevant data are still to be migrated.

Secondly, PHE’s intranet, described as “not fit for purpose” is also set for a redevelopment, with an emphasis on making it a collaboration hub.

More collaboration tools will also be developed, including elements of a planned CRM system that will be used to create a single customer view.

Fourthly, PHE aims to develop a new mobile platform to support a more consistent approach to app development. This will give it more scope for building apps in partnerships or adapting products that already exist.

Change journey

The document says the framework and plan will be the next steps in what it calls “the change journey”, and will take in its approach to decisions on the use of technology, data architecture, governance and partnerships. It also points towards the strategy being updated regularly as the work progresses.

It describes digital public health as “a re-imagining of public health using these new ways of working, blending established public health wisdom with new digital concepts and tools”.

While it limits the details of the plans, it signals that the use of big data will be an important feature, and that PHE intends to provide local organisations with personalised data that will allow them to tailor services to specific needs.

Its core objectives are also cautious in not presenting too much detail to fortune, but involve five ambitions: delivering new models for digital public health; improving digital understanding across PHE; integrating digital ways of working into the design of products, services and business processes; building and improving digital platforms for PHE; and increasing digital skills in the organisation.

For each of these, the digital team and relevant business units are to develop a workplan as part of the annual business planning process.

Core principles

The document also highlights the core principles of the work as being: user focused; data driven; connected to citizens, government and partners; open and transparent; coming with the ability to measure impacts, learn and iterate change; efficient, with streamlined business processes; and providing value for money.

Any investments will have to be shown to provide public health value and backed by evidence of user needs. They will also be carried out in line with the design principles and standards laid down by the Government Digital Service.

PHE’s digital team works with the chief knowledge officer’s directorate and is responsible for building the core products for use across the organisation.

Publication of the document has come at the same time as PHE has begun to pilot an online space on the public sector Knowledge Hub for sharing information about local knowledge and intelligence products and its services.

Named the Local Knowledge and Intelligence Service (LKIS), its content includes discussion forums and links to content from old Public Health Observatory websites on national archives. PHE said this will make it easier for partners to keep up to date with health intelligence in their areas and to join discussions.

Image from GOV.UK, Open Government Licence v3.0

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