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Development update – July 2020

In this instalment of our new development update, we share with our PKB community what our developer and product teams will be busy working on over the next month to further improve the experience for our customers and users.

Our core priorities for this month are:

  • Supporting customers as they begin to use the new features in Messaging and Questionnaires.
  • Improving the user experience across Tests, Journal and Plans.

1. Assign & Archive messages

This month we released our two new messaging features, Assign & Archive which will allow professionals to assign and archive messages as a way of organising their PKB inbox.

The Assign feature is to allow one professional on a team to take ownership of a message that has been sent to multiple professionals within the same team.

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The Archive feature is for messages that a professional has deemed as ‘complete’ i.e. they are not expecting a response back or they have completed everything required in the message.

For more information about these features, please see our recent blog and manual

We want to support our customers to use these features. If you would like any support to use this feature, or have any comments or feedback, please email or contact your PKB Success Lead. 

2. Archiving Questionnaires

We will give organisations the option to archive questionnaires. Archived questionnaires no longer appear for patients to fill out or for professionals to send out. However, the completed answers remain for coordinators to download.

3. Events and Messages refactoring

Our monthly secure messaging volumes have increased 10-fold this year. The increase will continue as more sites take full advantage of all our new features, such as the Assign and Archive and Automatic CC features.

To continue scaling, we have started to refactor our existing messaging functionality. Refactoring code does not change the functionality that our users see however, it makes the code more efficient and means PKB can support an increasing number of users.  Refactoring will also make it easier for us to add new features to the messaging functionality in the future.

During July, we will focus on the design and planning of this project.

4. Performance improvements for Measurements and Tests 

We are upgrading our charting software to improve loading times of our graphs on the Measurements and Tests pages. This will improve the experience for users as the number of tests and measurements that they have in their record begins to increase. 

5. New accessible colour scheme

We are updating the Patients Know Best colour scheme as part of our ongoing efforts to make the platform more accessible for patients. The new colours meet the latest accessibility standards ensuring compliance with WCAG AA 2.1. This will be applied to give prominence to certain key elements, helping to guide the eye of the user to the most important features. The changes will affect text, background, links and button colours. 

We planned to release the new colour scheme in June but it will now be released in July as we allowed more time for testing and building in feedback from users.

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6. User Interface (UI) and usability improvements 

We’re adding a new options menu as well as working on the UI of the Tests and Journal pages this month. We will also be making some minor fixes to improve the usability of the Plans and Consultations pages.

Before creating our new designs, we spent time researching which information users felt was most important for them to see ‘at a glance’ so that we could display this data more prominently in the new designs. These changes will allow users to easily scan pages to find the information they need quickly

Further information can be found in our previous blog here

a) New ‘ellipsis’ options menu

Our research also showed that some users struggled to find particular features. In response, we have designed a new options menu which will display for each data point. 

The menu will be represented by an ‘ellipsis’ – one of the more commonly used design patterns that websites use for displaying further actions. Clicking on the options menu will open a dropdown that lists all the actions available. These actions will be: edit, edit privacy, discuss and delete.

b) Tests and Journal pages new designs

The main focus of the updates on the Tests and Journal pages is to highlight key information and to ensure the pages are optimised for all screen sizes. With most of our users using PKB on a mobile device, it’s a priority for us to ensure the screens are responsive.

The name of the Test or Journal entry will be made more prominent and actions on the page will be moved into the new options menu. 

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We’re also re-labelling some of the items on the page and simplifying the icons for data points on graphs to make these easier to understand.

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c) Plans and Consultations usability improvements

Where a patient does not have access to any care plan templates from their team, we will provide a blank plan template by default. This will empower patients to create their own plan to self-manage their health and share with those involved in their care, should they choose to. 

We will also remove some incorrectly placed asterisks (used to mark mandatory fields) from the plans section where they are not mandatory.

We will update the behaviour of the keyboard ‘Enter’ button on the plans section so the action acts as a go/ submit action rather than cancel. 

Finally, we will remove the ’Start consultation’ button from the ‘Events & messages’ page if there are no available consultations for the patient to complete.

7. FHIR API for record creation and demographic updates

We have started work on a FHIR API that will allow organisations to create patient records, invite patients to register by email and update patient demographics. Please see our specification for more details

This FHIR API will give organisations more flexibility when choosing how to create patients. It will also allow us to integrate with the Data Discovery Service who will use our FHIR APIs to create patient records in Patients Know Best and populate patient records with allergies, diagnoses, appointments and medications from their GP record.

8. EMIS extract service

While EMIS transitions to using Snomed CT codes in EMIS Web, the extract service has not been operational. We are working to resume processing GP data at the moment. 

As part of that, we’ll prevent email notifications from being sent to patients if we receive an update from EMIS for data that does not change in the patient’s record. 

We’re working on getting the service up and running again this month and we expect this work to continue into August.

9. HL7 partner user UI updates

PKB is proud to partner with third-party companies to improve user experience. Some of these partners can be found on our website. Most commonly, the third-party partner is required to send data to PKB on behalf of an existing PKB customer.

From this month, the UI will clearly show users the third-party sending data. The source text for a data point sent by a third-party partner on behalf of an organisation will read “(partner name) on behalf of (org name)”.

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Additionally, we will make UI changes to show users when one organisation has sent data on behalf of another.

The source text for a data point sent by one organisation connecting on behalf of another will read “(connecting org name) on behalf of (org name A)”.

10. Adding support for the string data type in HL7 ORU^R01 messages

ORU^R01 HL7 messages are used to send test results and radiology reports to PKB.

In a HL7 ORU R01 message, string “ST” will soon be a valid textual data type that can be provided in the OBX segment. 

This will allow us to accept single textual reports from customers that would like to use ‘ST’ as their textual data type.

11. ‘Add many patients’ CSV enhancements

Privacy access for carers uploaded

Currently, if an organisation uploads a CSV of carers for their patients, the carers are given the same privacy access to the patients’ records as the team’s professionals have by default. It is common and appropriate that a professional has access to the full record of a patient, but it is less usual for a carer to have access to a patient’s sexual health or mental health record by default. However, a carer does need to access the kind of information that the inviting clinical team is creating i.e. if a mental health team added a carer it is because that patient needs the carer to have access to the mental health information added by the team.

We are changing this behaviour to only give carers uploaded by csv access to general health and also access to the privacy level that the inviting team adds data to their patients’ record with. For example, a cardiology team with full access to the record but only adding general health data would only grant carers access to the general health record. While a psychiatric team adding mental health data to a patient’s record would grant carers access to general health and mental health information.

This will ensure that the carers are not given access to more privacy labels than they need if the adding team has full access to their patients’ records. The patients will continue to be able to change the data they are sharing with carers themselves. 

Change demographics by CSV upload

PKB will soon allow teams to update their patients’ names, date-of-births and addresses by CSV upload. 

Identifiers and email addresses cannot be updated by CSV upload as these are used for identifying the correct record to update.

12. Contact details CSV to include identifiers

When coordinators download a CSV of their patients’ contact details, the CSV will soon include the patients’ national identifier (e.g. NHS number in England) and local identifiers. Clinical teams can use this with other databases they have about their patients.

13. Registration reports

We are building new registration reports so that we can provide organisations with accurate information about the records they are creating and the number of patients registering.

June review

Our June blog lists the new features that were released last month. Features that were delayed have been carried over to this blog. However, we did release the following feature that was not covered in the earlier blog: 

New symptoms for COVID-19 patients

We added the following new symptoms:

  1. Shortness of breath at rest
  2. Shortness of breath on activity
  3. Loss of smell
  4. Loss of taste

We look forward to sharing further details about all our new features as they are released. In the meantime, if you’d like to know more please
get in touch.  

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