A Digital Asset Register for NHSA


When we were approached by the North West Academic Health and Science network to create a new platform for Digital Health in the North (DHN), they needed a way to manage and share thousands of innovative health assets deployed across the North of England. We worked with them over a few weeks to deliver an asset register which made it simple for users to publish, manage and locate a wide variety of assets and improve healthcare across England.

Organisations like NHSA, IA and HIM are making huge strides in the health sector. But they were limited on their ability to find and share knowledge with other organisations across England. The people working at these organisations found it difficult to find data, find a point of contact and represent their data in a way that would encourage others to consume it. Removing this friction would create substantial benefits for everyone involved.

The register would need to house information around a variety of assets ranging from interoperability case studies, the integration of IBM Watson into hospitals and patient record exchange services.

"The assets are spread across over 8 major cities with top universities, leading NHS teaching trusts and academic health science networks all with a need to publish and access this data."


How We Helped

We worked with DHN to develop a flexible taxonomy that would allow multiple organisations to manage their assets on the platform without requiring a technical background. They wouldn’t need a course in SEO to make their content discoverable through search, all of the appropriate data would be easily consumable and we would automate the bulk of the metadata by supplier. We wanted to make it really simple to add, update and manage assets to encourage collaboration.

We worked with teams from each organisation to help them understand what they needed from the platform. What would make their work easier? How are they currently working with assets? How would the register make them better?

We sought to develop a shared understanding of what data users would want to consume, how they would consume it, and more importantly, why they would want to. Over the course of a few weeks, we ran multiple design sprints to iterate the tool, testing it with stakeholders and users along the way, even rethinking how we use Wagtail as a CMS. We implemented a bespoke role based access system so that the organisations could maintain ownership and responsibility over their assets but still have access to the same powerful publishing tools. We needed it to be easy for organisations to become a publisher of content, whilst maintaining a high level of quality across assets.

What We Delivered

By the end of the project we had developed a robust asset register, expanding on the Wagtail CMS to house complex data structures, while keeping things simple for publishers. We prioritised the core metadata required by users and presented it in an easy to read format. This made it simple for users to quickly locate and consume the content that was appropriate to them. Having worked with and been impressed by registers in the past, we provided published dates, revisions and version data to make sure that the information users were receiving was up to date and relevant, data that could be trusted as a canonical source of truth. We implemented the three most popular methods of content discovery, implementing browsing capability through categories and location, backed up by a sophisticated search capability.

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What Comes Next

After delivering the system, DHN continue to test and iterate on the work carried out during this project. We worked closely with the core publishers to ensure they were trained in the use of Wagtail CMS, in addition to the super users of the system. We hope to see the service transition to a live state in the near future as we’re sure it would make the health ecosystem a better place.

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