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NHS App strategy: developing the digital ecosystem

How should we integrate services with the NHS App?

There are currently 3 possible levels of integration with the NHS App:

  1. API-based: a tightly coupled integration that uses a REST API which means the service is fully rendered in the NHS App. APIs must be non-proprietary and based on open standards.
  2. Responsive web: surfacing a responsive website in the app that has a similar design language using the NHS digital service manual.
  3. Linking out: hyperlinking from NHS App to another web service. 

All levels will use NHS login so users only have to sign in once and can be securely connected to their information. 

Each level has advantages and disadvantages technically, financially and from a user experience perspective. The linking out pattern has not tested well with users to date and may not be continued.

We believe that allowing people to access different services via the NHS App will make them easier to find, access and use. If integration is done badly however, there is a risk that the user experience will be disjointed, confusing and cluttered. 

We will use a common set of standards to help mitigate this risk which focus on: 

We will work with each supplier to identify which integration approach is most appropriate for their service. The final decision will be taken by NHSX, who will also identify a target approach for each type of service. 

We may take an iterative approach, starting with the responsive web approach and moving to an API-based approach at a later stage.

The NHS Organ Donor Register integration with the NHS App is a good example of this in practice. The initial release used the responsive web approach. But limitations in the organ donor website at the time meant it did not give people a good, seamless and accessible experience. 

The API-based integration with the service was released four months later. This gave users a richer experience as they could view their existing preferences and update them. This led to an increase in click-throughs from the NHS App. 

Are these the right standards and integration options? Tell us what you think.

Last edited: 3 March 2020 2:58 pm