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How we're supporting product teams

Making it easier to get help and support is a guiding principle for our API Management (APIM) team. Ernest Kissiedu, a business analyst in the team, explains the new approach to supporting software developers working in health and care.

Ensuring that the API platform is as self-serve as possible, with simple and reliable support provided when needed, is top of the list for our team. If our developers have a positive experience, they are more likely to use our APIs to develop cost-effective, digital services designed around the needs of our health and care professionals, patients, and the public.

The author Ernest Kissiedu

When I started my business analyst career for NHS Digital in 2021, one of my tasks was to take ownership of the email help and support channel, which is the front door into API Management. I gained consumer insights, identified trends, and quickly created a tight feedback loop. I worked closely with other product teams to enact change, such as improving the developer and integration hub content and API specifications.

Support is more than just a mailbox

Alongside the APIM mailbox, developer support is provided through relevant API Product teams using email, MS Teams, and Slack channels. However, the current provision doesn't scale for the future digital support needs of the health and care system. 

On any given week, the APIM support mailbox receives several queries relating to the following topics, how to:

We realised that answering these questions on a one-to-many basis in an open forum could be more effective because more people can see the solutions to the problems. The idea for an NHS-run developer community was born.

The case for a community

When surveyed in February 2022, 76% of our registered users (which includes chief technology officers, project managers, business analysts and developers) agreed that a well-supported official NHS Digital forum would provide the help and support they need.

Some of the current challenges reported by users:

  • it appears that essential knowledge remains stuck inside the organisation
  • not knowing the right person to contact
  • which API they should use
  • confusion when they find multiple APIs that seem to do the same thing
  • the challenge of navigating the health tech landscape for those new to health and care

The long-term vision for the community is to address these challenges by making it easy for the health and care system to access official support, insight, and knowledge from NHS Digital. By creating an open environment, we hope that people in the community will also help each other.

Testing out our online support model

We have been testing a proof of concept (POC) solution for the Developer Community since September 2022. For the POC, we want to prove that an online community can open the door to important knowledge presently stuck inside NHS Digital in an efficient and accessible way and to see if it scales effectively. The POC will help us better understand the resource demands and give more space and time to gather input from users.

We have chosen a dedicated community tool to test out our community concept because we found it had a great fit with our user needs.

The Developer Community is available to all potential users of NHS Digital’s developer and integration hub. The public can view the topics, questions, and answers without logging in. To post questions or add comments, users can register for a developer hub account.

If someone is experiencing issues integrating with a particular API or are unsure which API best suits their use case, they can get in touch using the platform. We shall support the community with NHS Digital API producers, product teams, technical subject matter experts and our support staff who manage the APIM mailbox and Developer Community.

Expanding the community

We look forward to welcoming anyone interested integrating with NHS Digital APIs to the growing Developer Community.  It aims to provide a collaborative space for making connections and generating new ideas. We have given ourselves 6 months to get feedback and see if it solves the problems we’ve found. We will be actively working with our users to see what they think and iterate based on their feedback.

If you want to discover more about the Developer Community, please set up your developer hub account, use it to sign in, and start reading, responding, and posting your questions.

Related subjects

Tony Heap, Lead Product Owner for API management at NHS Digital, explains how our new API platform can create a more competitive marketplace for healthcare systems.
Sam Perera, API Delivery Manager at NHS Digital, explains how we are making it easier to use our APIs.
Alex Lord, Lead Product Owner for the Digital Onboarding Service at NHS Digital, explains why we are investing in digitalising the onboarding journey for developers of healthcare software.


Last edited: 23 January 2024 10:54 am