Protecting our workforce and communities through the provision of the PPE e-Portal platform.

Department of Health & Social Care (DHSC) deploys a user-friendly portal (‘Portal 2.0’) to continue distribution of billions of units of PPE and related stock with Adobe Commerce, implemented by CTI Digital.

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CTI Digital
London, United Kingdom
www.ctidigital.com

8.75 billion

Items of PPE ordered from Apr. 2020 to Sep. 2022, using previous portal and the new platform*

Products:

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Objectives

Connect busy frontline organisations and numerous other eligible users with PPE and related stock to keep themselves and the public safe

Create a flexible portal that can evolve to address changing needs

Deliver a custom experience to help different organizations find specific PPE items for their needs and requirements

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Results

Over 8.75 billion items of PPE and related stock ordered from April 2020 to September 2022, through the e-Portal

Improved user confidence with a site that is fast and easy to use

Increased accessibility with responsive design for desktop and mobile access

Launched the new platform quickly by taking advantage of rich built-in functionality

When the COVID-19 pandemic began impacting communities worldwide in 2020, community health services rushed to get their hands on personal protective equipment (PPE) that would allow them to continue caring for others while keeping themselves and the public as safe as possible.

 

As part of emergency efforts in the United Kingdom, the government provided essential organisations with PPE free of charge. This included doctors (such as GPs), nurses, social care providers, dentists, orthodontists, pharmacies, optometrists, drug and alcohol services, other government departments, local authorities, independent sector providers and a range of other eligible users and essential organisations working across the country. Providing accessible supply and distribution routes to obtain free PPE and other critical stock helped ensure that all organisations, big and small, could get faster access to necessary PPE.

 

The Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) set up an e-commerce site to facilitate distribution of PPE across England for primary care, social care, and a range of other eligible users. The first version of the PPE e-Portal was a vital, pro-bono project based on the eBay e-commerce environment. DHSC later replaced the e-Portal with an implementation of Adobe Commerce, which added more functionality, making it quicker and easier for organisations to order the PPE they needed.

 

“Using Adobe Commerce’s built-in functionality, we could implement a new and improved web experience in a timely manner,” says Vishal Wilde, former Policy and Communications Lead for the PPE e-Portal platform at the DHSC. “We’ve distributed many billions of items to help keep vital services running safely during the pandemic.”


“With support from CTI Digital, the new PPE e-Portal platform built on Adobe Commerce passed a Government Digital Service (GDS) service assessment and delivered user experiences that are simple, highly secure, accessible and reliable.”

 
Vishal Wilde

Former Policy and Communications Lead for the PPE e-Portal platform, Department of Health and Social Care (UK)


Delivering an e-Portal that puts users first

The first version of the e-Portal launched in April 2020 and needed to be rolled out as fast as possible, to support organisations during the early stages of the pandemic. The portal started servicing sectors in primary care and social care, before opening up to other sectors such as public services, local authorities and vaccination centres. After getting the first platform operational, DHSC began working on how it could create a more flexible and future-proofed digital platform which could keep up with changing demand during both the pandemic and for future prospective requirements.

 

DHSC partnered with full-service digital agency CTI Digital for a second version of the e-Portal. The organisations chose Adobe Commerce as a platform that would be scalable and flexible but could also be deployed as quickly and easily as possible to support ongoing challenges.

 

CTI Digital started the e-Portal renewal project with user research, surveying hundreds of groups to find out what they needed from the DHSC to improve their user experience. The DHSC PPE e-Portal reaches a wide variety of UK workers and organisations. It supplies medical, health and care professionals, such as physicians, dentists, optometrists, and pharmacists; social workers, including people working for residential care facilities, domestic abuse shelters, or community drug and alcohol services; and other government departments and public sector entities, ranging from police to the Maritime and Coastguard Agency.

 

After a soft launch beginning in January 2022, the DHSC gradually phased users over to the new platform over the course of a year. Of the 63,369 organizations invited to register themselves on the portal by June 2022, 46,955 providers had registered.

 

“We were very impressed with CTI Digital and their attention to detail,” says Vishal Wilde. “With support from CTI Digital, the new e-Portal platform (also known as ‘the PPE Portal’) built on Adobe Commerce passed a Government Digital Service (GDS) service assessment and delivered user experiences that are simple, highly secure, accessible, and reliable.”


“In just over two years since we set up the first version of the e-Portal, we have worked with over 58,000 registered providers and delivered billions of items, that’s something we’re incredibly proud of.”

 
Vishal Wilde

Former Policy and Communications Lead for the PPE e-Portal platform, Department of Health and Social Care (UK)


Rapid ordering for busy frontline organisations

Using Adobe Commerce, DHSC has deployed a more user-friendly, personalised, and accessible website for users and organisations across the UK. Users on the new portal can access features such as viewing their order limits, accessing order history, and tracking an order.

 

“With such a vast and differentiated customer base relying on the portal every day, it was important to us that we created an experience that was quick and easy for everyone, no matter their level of digital maturity,” said Vishal Wilde.

 

The website uses responsive design that makes it simple to use on any size screen—an important feature for people working outside of offices and on front lines. Elastic search adds an upgrade to the previous search engine, streamlining how people find the SKUs and items that they’re looking for even if they misspell words or use less common terms. During the soft launch of the new portal, the department carried out a survey and received 446 responses; a total of 96% of respondents stated they were either “very satisfied” (76%) or “satisfied” (20%) with the new website while 97% stated they were either “very confident” (85%) or “confident” (12%) when using the new platform.

 

One of the biggest differences with the updated e-Portal on Adobe Commerce is the ability to segment audiences and add user journeys. The portal can be customised so that customers see the PPE items most relevant to their organisation, from standard face masks and sanitisers to aprons, gloves, and eye protectors, making the ordering process as quick and simple as possible. Each organisation also has different order limits based on the type of organisation and size.

 

“Feedback so far has been very positive. Customers have told us that they are more confident using the more user-friendly portal,” says Vishal Wilde. “In just over two years since we set up the first version of the e-Portal, we have worked with over 58,000 registered providers and delivered billions of items, that’s something we’re incredibly proud of,” says Vishal Wilde. “We’re well positioned for future and ongoing distribution requirements that come our way.”

 

The new platform is managed by NHS Supply Chain.

 

Learn more about Adobe Commerce.

 

* Distribution statistics for the PPE Programme (of which the e-Portal is a part), are published on GOV.UK: PPE distribution statistics (England) – GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)

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