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TechnologyJan 4, 2023

NHS Digital launches an online community in a bid to support health tech professionals

More than 200 users have already signed up to a growing developer community, which aims to create an online space that is open to anyone wanting to integrate with NHS Digital’s Application Programming Interfaces (APIs) platform.

The platform provides a set of products and services to make it easier to build and integrate with national systems. These are used by point-of-care and patient-facing applications to talk to back-end applications. Most are NHS Digital-owned, but some are owned by third parties. The platform provides a consistent experience for API consumers and producers, helping to make integration easier.

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NHS Digital users wanted a well-supported, official NHS forum that would help them

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The idea for the developer community came after a survey, carried out by NHS Digital, showed three existing users in four (76 per cent) – including chief technology officers, project managers, business analysts and developers – were in favour of a well-supported, official NHS forum that would provide them with help.

NHS Digital business analyst Ernest Kissiedu, whose role involves supporting API Management, said: ‘We realised we could improve the way we do things by providing an open forum to create a sense of community among our API developers.'

We want to support our developers ... 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 [Ernest Kissiedu, NHS Digital]

Mr Kissiedu added: '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.’

Harnessing expertise and experience

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.’

Anyone can access the developer community to browse or search for answers to queries. Those who set up developer hub accounts will also be able to post and respond to other threads featured on the forum. Feedback can also be left by those seeking to contribute to the pilot.

Author: Ian A McMillan
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