We rebuilt the Royal Pharmaceutical Society's medicine information service, which is used across the NHS and beyond
When health professionals prescribe, administer or dispense drugs, they often need to check vital information about the medicine. What are the side-effects? Can it be taken with other drugs? What does it cost? What alternatives are there? This information on thousands of UK-licensed drugs is found in MedicinesComplete, the Royal Pharmaceutical Society’s online portal. MedicinesComplete is used by the NHS, commercial pharmacies and many other healthcare institutions. It also contains details on hundreds of thousands of other products available globally, and is used by over 400,000 people every month. To help it deliver an even better service to existing customers and realise growth in new markets, the Society has ambitious plans for new products. To deliver these, it was replacing its end-of-life MedicinesComplete system with a modern platform. This needed to be easy to extend and maintain, and offer user experiences in line with current expectations, including on mobile.
To help deliver the new system quickly, the Society brought in Softwire to bolster its own development team. Our role was to take responsibility for certain elements of the platform, and instil digital engineering best practices that the Society could also transfer onto other projects.
Softwire engineers worked with the Royal Pharmaceutical Society to deliver headline features and introduce digital engineering best practices.
We provided a flexible number of engineers to work alongside the Royal Pharmaceutical Society’s in-house developers. One of the headline items we were involved with was the improved search and filtering system. Key to this was the delivery of an updated system to handle ontology, which allows users to see intelligently chosen related terms, components, and drug groups alongside search results.
We upgraded the Elasticsearch database, which enabled the team to deliver much of the desired functionality. We also transformed the prototype information-publishing tools into production-ready applications.
In parallel, we introduced new ways of working, including improved feature planning, early code-review within the development team and new infrastructure working approaches to speed up development.
Our involvement ensured on-time delivery of a modern system, equipped to underpin the Royal Pharmaceutical Society’s strategic new products and services.
Our work to instil digital engineering best practices helped accelerate the project, enhance code quality and consequently ensured the team delivered on-schedule. The result is a modern, easy-to-use, extensible system that’s proving a hit with clinicians. The improved search, dosage cards and results filters are helping them pinpoint important information faster when prescribing or administering medication.
Meanwhile, the Society is able to publish data more easily, thanks to the editorial tools we delivered. Equally importantly, the new system is enabling the Royal Pharmaceutical Society to press ahead with strategic product development, with the best practices instilled by Softwire underpinning these initiatives.
Jeremy Macdonald, Director of Technology at the Royal Pharmaceutical Society, says: “My experience with Softwire has been positive across the board. They’ve been key in our ability to deliver – and I’m always confident the resources they give me will be able to come in and do a good job.”