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What is ‘integration in a box’?

We want to make it as easy as possible for suppliers to integrate their services with the NHS App. Dan Collins, Senior Product Manager at NHS Digital, explains some new self-serve tools we think will help.

We’re seeing increasing enthusiasm for the NHS App in the tech community. We know that, if we can harness their creativity, we’ll multiply the number, range, and quality of services on offer to the public – so we want to make the initial stages of development as easy and straightforward as possible.

 

Dan Collins

That’s where our new ‘integration in a box' resources come in. Supplier development teams will be able to access information and open-source code to support with the NHS App and NHS login.   
 
Complementing the developer documentation already available for supplier teams, this resource empowers them to self-serve through the development steps necessary for integrating a service.  


What are we offering?

It’s a variety of resources that are available from the start of the supplier development teams engagement with the NHS App team. It helps developers get ahead of the integration and use NHS App and NHS login code as well as access to an API and component code for popular features. 

A downloadable version of the NHS App codebase

Suppliers can download a self-contained version of the NHS App to install on their local network. This allows supplier development teams to integrate the code and test their planned concept quickly to establish if an integrated journey works and if so, how that would look in a working coded application.

A coded example of an integration between the NHS App and NHS login

Developers can understand how to implement single sign-on from the front-door of the App into their service.

Access to a JavaScript API

This is used to hide the header and footer navigation components of their service, allowing supplier teams to quickly understand how to achieve visual consistency with the NHS App. 

Access to component code

This supports integration of specific features (for example, how to add appointments to a patient’s calendar and how to download documents such as a doctor fit note).


How will ‘integration in a box’ benefit supplier developers?

With access to these resources at the start of involvement with the NHS App team, supplier developer teams will: 

  • be able to plan ahead with assurance
  • test the viability of integrated app journeys sooner  
  • independently build an early understanding of how NHS App code and core components behave and fit together 
  • support developers’ early assessment of the technical effort required to integrate with the NHS App and NHS login  
  • help suppliers’ resource and delivery planning 

Integrating more efficiently

Our NHS App onboarding help and support documentation educates suppliers on the 5-step process and the responsibilities of the supplier team at each stage.

1. Expression of interest

We ask suppliers to complete a survey about the service provided by the supplier and how they use patient data. 

2. Product assessment

The supplier’s service is reviewed on the grounds of 'product fit’ with the core NHS App proposition and synergy with the existing feature set, as well as how well it achieves web usability and web content accessibility. This feedback is then shared with the supplier team. 

3. Design sprint

In the design sprint we work with the supplier to visually map out each user journey for the features we plan to integrate, allowing us a shared view of how users will navigate from the NHS App into specific pages of the supplier’s service.  

4. Delivery

The supplier’s development team work through modifications we have recommended during the ‘product assessment’ and ‘design sprint’ stages. We review the supplier’s progress via work-in-progress demos that let us see how the integration build is progressing.   

5. Launch

A roll-out plan is agreed with the supplier team. This requires agreement on which patients in England will be able to view the new integrated service via the NHS App. The patient catchment is defined at local general practice level. 


Will our service integrate with the NHS App?

Suppliers are keen to understand swiftly if the integration is going to be viable and technically feasible before the formal NHS App onboarding process has completed.  

Providing the working code upfront allows developers to review, inspect and troubleshoot issues independently, without having to wait for answers from the NHS App development teams.. 

Understanding integration feasibility early in the process also allows: 

  • supplier teams to estimate and plan their own development sprints and integration activities with more precision 
  • improve the ability of supplier teams to integrate with NHS App more efficiently 
  • get their products to market in less time

‘Integration in a box’ will provide the tools needed to make this happen. 

Where next?

‘Integration in a box' is now live and we are gathering feedback from suppliers. We welcome your feedback on the content and ideas for future tools and technology to include. If you have some thoughts, please get in touch at app.onboarding@nhs.net


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Last edited: 28 June 2022 11:02 am