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NHS.UK Alpha: building on what’s open

Posted by: , Posted on: - Categories: Service design, Transformation

A couple of weeks ago, our colleagues at NHS.UK wrapped up the first phase of their alpha build. Bringing together experts from across the healthcare system, they built prototypes that demonstrated the possibility a new approach to digital health information could offer.

We spoke to them about how using some of the tools developed in the open over the last few years helped them kickstart that process.


Nayeema Chowdhury, Build Team Lead, NHS.UK Alpha

The NHS Alpha brings together the Department of Health, NHS England and NHS Choices which is part of the Health and Social Care Information Centre to look at what the vision of NHS.UK should be.

We’ve brought together people who are strategists as well as multi-disciplinary development teams to work together in a user-focussed way: so actually looking at the research, going out and talking to people, whether its users, clinicians, or health and care professionals to bring together what the ideas should be and what our proposition should be.

Mat Johnson, Interaction Designer, NHS.UK Alpha

At the moment we are user testing a booking prototype. You can user research through paper, through kind of like scenarios, but actually having something that you can present to a user on a phone or an iPad or on a desktop that literally reflects the real experience as best we possibly can is immensely useful to us, I think.

We actually used the GOV.UK prototyping tool. The fact that the tools and the learnings from 3-4 years of user research into like how to get through a public service transaction online is actually there and open for us to basically use is kind of invaluable. It gives us a huge head start.


There’s been quite a lot of new processes across government that we’ve been using. A lot of them have come from the Government Digital Service. So we have been using the Digital by Default services standard. We have things like the design principles.

So having that as a benchmark and then building on it so we have our own principles and team practices has made it easier to do because we’ve seen it done in the past and we’ve seen it done and working as well.

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