08 August 2011

HPC builds an iPhone App

Modern mobile devices like the iPhone are changing the way people access and share information. There is already an expectation that organisations should make their services available online, but now more than ever people expect those services to be fully functional from their mobile device.

At the HPC we are seeing the number of people accessing our services from mobile devices increasing. As an organisation looking to extend our reach to the public and our stakeholders to raise awareness of our regulatory role, it is a communications channel that we simply cannot ignore.

Mobile apps allow organisations to tailor information and services specifically for mobile devices, not only to ensure that the information is fully accessible from a smaller device, but also to utilise the specific strengths of these devices, such as GPS technology, social media integration and multimedia capabilities.

For me the key to building a successful mobile app is to focus it around a specific audience, and not to attempt to do too many things for too many people. The best apps that I have used tend to focus on a specific utility and perform it very well.

With the public as our primary audience, our focus was getting across our key messages, namely, who we are, what we do and how to raise a concern about a health and care professional.

However our strongest message is to encourage people to check that their professional is currently registered, ensuring that they are practising legally, safely and effectively, and they are entitled to use a protected title.

When we recently redesigned our online Register (accessed through our microsite hpcheck.org), we built new infrastructure which allows us to integrate this utility through other channels, and our new mobile app was perfectly placed to make full use of this.

The challenge for us was to design a mobile interface that made searching the Register easy, clear and accessible, and I would like to think that we've achieved that.

We were also able to integrate our RSS feeds giving users access to the latest news and media releases from the HPC. There is also the added benefit of users being able to save any relevant news items, as well as share items with friends and colleagues.

We have also managed to make use of the iPhones’ multimedia capabilities by including our ‘raising a concern’ brochure for download, and our video on 'understanding fitness to practise hearings' which can be viewed directly from the app.

We feel the new app uniquely extends the reach of the HPC Register, as well as providing another communications channel for our stakeholders.

We do not, however, see this as a finished product, and we are already looking at ways in which we can improve and extend the app in the future. You can download it free from the iPhone App Store now, and please tell us what you think by emailing us at: app@hpc-uk.org

Tony Glazier
Web Manager, Health Professions Council