Blog / What makes an NDS product an NDS product?

Rohan Gunatillake: December 04, 2019

What makes an NDS product an NDS product?

Earlier this year, I introduced the idea of kind technology as an orientation for our work. Founded on the NHS core value of compassion, the kind technology vision is of a world where every interaction people have with health and care technology in Scotland makes them feel cared for.

A valid criticism of the kind technology idea is that it all sounds very lovely, but what does that mean in practice? So to help move from nice idea to real life, I started to explore another question, and that question is; what makes an NDS product an NDS product? Or in other words, what are the qualities we want our products to have? In effect, it’s a promise we’re making, firstly to each other as colleagues as to the kind of work we want to ship and secondly to the people who will use our products, it's a guarantee of its quality.

To get to the first version of the qualities I’m about to share with you, I started by holding a session with colleagues representing all aspects of the team  - such as operations, engineering, product, compliance, clinical, leadership – and simply asked them what qualities were important to them. I then took that data, clustered and refined it and out of that exercise came an initial set of six qualities.

So cutting to the chase, what makes an NDS product an NDS product is that it is safe, respectful, secure, inclusive, well-designed and surprisingly good.

But remember these are not corporate values which are stuck on a wall and have no real meaning, these are product qualities, so let me break them down and explain what they mean, how they will be realised and evidenced and where we are on them for our first product, ReSPECT.


An NDS product is a safe product. It does not create any additional clinical safety issues and indeed where possible helps reduce clinical safety issues in the pathways and workflows in which it exists. We evidence this through our extensive clinical safety process and documentation. For ReSPECT, we are currently working on a range of safety issues and we will not release it unless all material safety risks are mitigated.

An NDS product is a respectful product. It respects all relevant legistation and regulation, it respects people’s privacy and it respects the time, attention and dignity of its users. We evidence this through our data protection impact assessment (DPIA), our design process and user feedback as to their experience. We will also develop a user impact assessment in support of this quality. For ReSPECT, we have a DPIA in place and the improvements we have made in recent weeks are based on initial user feedback and we are putting measures in place to capture feedback on an ongoing basis.

An NDS product is a secure product. It hosts and processes data securely and has the level of availability that is appropriate to what it is. We evidence this through our system security plan (SSP) and our service level agreements (SLA). For ReSPECT, we have a draft SSP and SLA which will be finalised before our first release.

An NDS product is inclusive. It is accessible and usable by as large a proportion of our user population as reasonably possible and involves people with different needs in the design process. We evidence this through an equality impact assessment, compliance with WCAG AA web standards, an accessibility statement, and a statement on our approach to inclusion. This is a development area for ReSPECT where to date we have primarily been working with clinical users in Forth Valley. As we look to extend the product in a range of ways, we shall take that opportunity to improve inclusion to the level we aspire to.

An NDS product is well designed. We will use good design processes that understand people and the systems they engage with. We will align strongly with the Scottish Approach to Service Design and therefore ensure users are involved in the design process in a meaningful way. We will evidence this by assessment against the Scottish Government Service Design maturity index, a design case study, user and participant feedback and the contribution of information and tools to the wider service design community. ReSPECT was initiated before we had any designers join the team and while they are now making useful contributions, our approach will be most apparent with our other products. Thankfully the ReSPECT process itself had very strong design input via the Helix Centre, so the product itself has a good design foundation.

An NDS product is surprisingly good. The experience of both using our products and engaging with our processes exceeds expectations and ideally raises the bar of what people grow to expect with public sector health and care technology. We’ll evidence this via user feedback, stakeholder feedback and a product case study. We have had some early success on this quality with ReSPECT, but the ultimate test will be the experience with the first release on the ward.

And together they all add up to being kind technology.


Currently, this thinking applies to the products we are making ourselves, but in time, there will be versions of these which we will expect to see in products that integrate with the infrastructure we are building out.

And do please note that this is a work in progress -  I do hope you found it useful and interesting. I am a strong believer in turning values into tangible reality and so we look forward to evolving this work further and would welcome your thoughts, feedback and critique.

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