Each month, around 10 million people access NHS Choices content via more than 800 partner websites, applications and other internet-connected devices, including more than 200 NHS organisations, local authorities and commercial companies such as Microsoft, Mumsnet and Boots.
Our free syndication programme allows partners to embed NHS Choices content (including multimedia tools and videos) within their websites, negating the need for in-house development or external signposting. In the past year, 50 million people have viewed NHS content via partner websites. For example, Microsoft Bing uses our content to power their GP and Hospital experience for local search queries, and Myria Systems has implemented the information across a range of GP websites.
Reasons for change
For the last six months NHS Choices has invested time and energy into the migration of its content from a 10 year old Sharepoint system to a new content management system (CMS). It was clear that the expectations of our 800 live partners who rely on the availability of our content and data were a key dependency of this work.
The service had often been overlooked in the evolution of the programme and its products – being shoehorned into things retrospectively instead of being considered a key feature at their discovery phase. However, a review of the programme roadmap presented our team with an invaluable opportunity to pitch for an improved service which addressed the poor user experience and infrastructure issues from which it had suffered in parallel to the CMS work being carried out. The Expo will see the launch of the new API developer portal giving partners an easier route into our syndication service and a smoother experience across the board.
The challenges of building a new API platform
This work is ongoing and we are constantly challenged by the need to maintain service levels while delivering change within an agile environment. When we come to switch from one API platform to another we will inevitably lose partners along the way. The only way to mitigate the numbers impacted is to communicate and encourage them all to start implementing the new content API as soon as it becomes available.
We have improved the random positioning of our supporting documentation which is currently embedded across various links and blogs making for a poor user experience. We are building the new platform with an integrated central document repository making it easier to update and access.
Moving forward with user needs
In order to be able to respond to user needs we are also developing a more effective tracking pixel which partners will need to proactively implement in exchange for the free syndication of our content. This will help us to monitor how our content is used and understand what is and isn’t working for partners. In a bid to support market innovation we have also initiated a new phase of engagement with our partners to try and understand their longer term needs as far as syndication goes. So if you have any suggestions about where the service needs to go, then please let us know. We will be at the Health & Care Expo (Teva Digital Health Zone) today and will be happy to have a chat and hear your thoughts.
Visit the new API developer portal at https://developer.api.nhs.uk