Background

Derbyshire STP, covering the local areas of High Peak, Chesterfield, Derbyshire Dales, South Derbyshire, Derby City, Erewash, Bolsover & North East Derbyshire and Amber Valley, needed a long-term digital platform for the ongoing evolution of the regional STP.

The purpose of the new website was multi-faceted: to reflect the purpose of the STP, to inform stakeholders internally and externally of the latest developments and to have functionality relevant to new model of care organisations. It also needed to have the flexibility to expand quickly and efficiently by the Derbyshire STP team without the need for external development and therefore additional cost.

The relevance of having a site which can be self-managed and upscaled quickly and efficiently by users with a wide range of digital skillsets is critically important for STPs. The potential for the delivery of different types of information and pushing new partner initiatives quickly, without external support, was an integral part of the brief.
 

The Brief

The new website had to fully reflect the organisation - in terms of its aims, and also visually. The STP is within a region of outstanding natural beauty with iconic buildings. This was decided as being an important visual cue that would give visual familiarity to users, making the website more immediately relevant.

The website had to deal with a variety of types of information including news, plans and priorities about the STP, information on recruitment, social media integration, and information to aid engagement.

Most importantly though, moving forward, the site has to be flexible enough to accommodate growth, provide information easily as it becomes available, and offer the flexibility to include partner organisations into managing data and content on the platform.

 

The Process...

Projects of this nature are a collaboration between multiple stakeholders and the digital agency.

We always feel that the most important stage of the project is the pre-development scoping phase, where all stakeholders develop the approach - from design, content and functionality through to future needs and requirements.

We are strong advocates of scoping sessions with multiple stakeholders, where we can ensure that the team fully understand all aspects of the project.


This includes:

  • Design/look and feel
  • Functionality
  • User journeys/user types
  • Emphasis of content delivery
  • Future development plans

In the case of the South Derbyshire STP project, two of these sessions were held, where the delivery and content/functionality were defined with the key stakeholders. At the first session, boilerplate designs were presented to the team based on the brief and our experience of working with numerous STPs and similar digital projects.

These initial designs are created to stimulate conversation and we encourage active and vocal feedback from stakeholders at this session to refine and cater for all user groups and user journeys.

At the second scoping session, this initial feedback was briefed to our designer and updated designs presented for further feedback.

This is an iterative process and once agreement is reached, we move into the pre-development production phase.

This phase is where the project is fully briefed into the development team. All aspects of the project are covered, including timescales. This is then followed up with an initiation call with the STP team, where the complete specification of the project is played back, agreed upon and approved. From this we draw up a ‘kick off pack’, a definitive project plan outlining all aspects of the project including key milestones, responsibilities and deliverables. Once agreed by all parties, the project will go into production and be
managed accordingly.

During the build...

During the build, the Derbyshire STP team engaged with us on ‘Show and Tell’ sessions, which allowed updates on the build to be made during the development process.

Using a ‘fail fast’ methodology meant that the tight deadline was adhered to, as key milestones were accompanied by show and tell sessions, meaning no surprises during the user acceptance testing. Training was given as the build was finished, and before the site went into user acceptance.

This period allowed the Derbyshire STP team to become familiar with the content management system before go-live, ensuring that we were on hand to support them during the bedding in process and address training gap related issues.

Once training and user acceptance testing had taken place the site went live and the STP used a warranty period of a week, where the STP team could utilise our assistance on issues without impacting their support contract.

The Solution

Frank Health have worked on designing and developing numerous STP sites across the UK in the last 5 years, starting with Healthier Together, the Greater Manchester new model of care consultation that resulted in Devolution Manchester, and most recently with Joined Up Care in Derbyshire.

There are a number of similarities when designing and developing STP platforms in comparison to the
typical NHS digital project - namely accessibility, brand adherence and being fully responsive on all devices - but there are also some important differences.

Firstly, evolution. STP sites will evolve, and in many instances grow significantly. This means that from the outset we have to deliver a flexible solution that has enough scope to grow. This growth may include events management for consultations, or inclusion of specific areas for workstreams such as cancer alliances, children and young people, diabetes, workforce transformation, maternity and mental health. In some cases, each of these separate areas may require decentralised management and a homepage design and build.

From the outset we need to go beyond purely design and user journey in our discussions with the STP. We need to gauge how will this platform be used in 12 to 18 months time, how many user groups, admins, content contributors and workstreams the site will need to accommodate and how it could potentially become a communications tool for the entire STP region, alongside its partner organisations.

Secondly, with our more mature STP clients, there is the need for the digital platform to serve more than one purpose - utilising the system’s ability to host multiple URLs and allowing multiple websites to be managed from one platform. The clear advantage of this is not only cost-related, but also in management of information. Being able to manage and aggregate information in a digital format in one location reduces duplication and the need to publish across multiple platforms.

This becomes apparent as more and more workstreams for STPs come online, for example it is straightforward and quick to deploy a new website for an Excellence Centre without need for procuring and building a new site. Alternatively adding a subsection for CAHMS, which sits within the STP site but also can be hosted as a microsite with it’s own URL obviously gives advantages for communications teams.

The nature of STPs, and the fact they are multi agency, has meant that functionality to set up secure
collaborative areas has been a beneficial feature, and the ability to quickly deploy secure extranet areas
is a benefit of the system that has proven useful for several STP clients.

 

Summary

STP websites are unique within the NHS and Health and Care environment. They are continually evolving, changing and will continue to do so as the roles of STPs evolve.

Managing growth, and indeed cost, is going to be paramount for organisations who see their digital platform being an integral part of their STP communications strategy moving forward, and recognising all potential developments at the outset of the project is paramount in making the project a success.