Apr30

Content Management Systems (CMS): Drupal To The Rescue!

DrupalYour challenge: Build a medical portal website,that showcases over 1500 GP practices in London, within 10 weeks. Possible? Yes, especially if you choose a Drupal Content Management System (CMS) to build a scalable and user-friendly system.


The above is not a “what-if” scenario; myhealth London actually accomplished the deployment of 1500 sub-sites plus the building of a comparison tool for 25 performance indicators.

“The main goal was to make data more transparent to Londoners. Enabling users to browse how well a GP performs in certain areas and compare multiple GPs in order to ensure they are making the best decision for their health,” said myhealth London.

 This required a central hub for each GP to highlight the following:

  •  Practice details, including opening hours, staff details, services offered, local news and events, patient participation forums, surveys and other information they wanted to upload.
  • 26 indicators, each represented as pie charts, showing how well they performed in the latest period, and this would be the initial data users of the site could compare to gain a quick visual overview of GPs in their area.

The IT team performed “agile sprints” to meet the deadline, which involved a massive amount of data which had to be imported from various GP practices across London.

“Additionally, we had to structure a user permissions system to allow GPs to manage their own data going forward.”

The team also decided to use the PHP charting library pChart.generate pie charts from the database and outputting a GP score on an indicator. A detailed view was required to show the GP score over the last four data periods (quarterly or annually) as well as the GPs score against other GPs in the same borough. W

“Working with different formats (percentage, ratio, and score out of x) as well as periods (quarterly or annually) provided an additional level of complexity to the process.

Further interactivity was provided by embedding patient-submitted comments into each of the 1500+ GP pages allowing users to see what others have said about a particular GP enabling them to draw their own conclusions about the quality of the provider.

Another “wildcard” thrown into the mix, was the style of site launch, which involved the London Mayor declaring it “Live” on national TV. This of course led to a big spike in traffic, which has not abated as more functionality is added to the system.  And, this is easy to do using a “templatized” modular approach to develop new communities in the portal.

“The future of myhealth London includes a microsite and mobile app for young people. Drupal’s flexibility and scalability has enabled the vast amounts of development required and has ensured the project was a success and continues to be so.”

Deploying Drupal on an Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS) platform allows IT teams to pursue maximum programming and user-interface agility, without being restricted by traditional short-comings that may be associated with alternative platforms, such as Joomla and WordPress.

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