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What is an API Management Platform?



I am currently working as a Senior Product Specialist (or Product Manager) for Digital Health & Care Wales. I started working as part of the National Data Resource Programme about a year ago. I had previously undertaken a variety of ICT roles, the latest involved managing the products and tools used by statisticians. However, after 17 years in Government I wanted to try something a bit different. Something that would perhaps get me a bit closer to the technology, widen my experience of data architecture, and lend my support to a new area of public service.

During the last 12 months I have been helping to lead the implementation of the new API Management Platform for the NHS in Wales. This has involved learning more about networks, the NHS Wales ICT landscape, the Governance processes, and the ideas and concepts around the capabilities of API Management, and of course, meeting some great new colleagues, stakeholders, and project teams.I have also had to get up to speed with new cloud technology. I had previously worked with Microsoft Azure but had only dabbled with Google Cloud (and Amazon Web Services) on a “hobby” basis. Increasing my knowledge of Google Cloud has been interesting.

When getting to grips with the differences and similarities between these two cloud providers I can understand why many organisations are adopting a multi-cloud approach, as both platforms have clear strengths and weaknesses. Then there’s the APIs themselves. I had previously worked with open data APIs which play an important role in increasing the transparency of Government; and there are similarities with the standards and paradigms I have worked with; however, the APIs which underpin the systems used by clinicians tend to have a higher level of criticality and urgency. There are some clearly defined healthcare API health care standards, such as FHIR, that I’ve had to get to grips with.

So, API Management, why you would need it and what opportunities are there with using it?


So how is the project progressing? 

The end of September was a real milestone for our team, as we were able to make some existing APIs available for consumption. These new API connections are currently being tested with a few selected “pilot” stakeholders where we are clarifying, documenting and rehearsing some of the processes involved in establishing connectivity -ensuring that we do so in a safe and compliant manner consistent with the high expectations of healthcare data. The assurance process (often termed “on-boarding”) allowing applications to gain access to APIs is complex, and there are emerging plans to standardise, streamline, and make it more transparent.

In the meantime, around Springtime next year, we hope to get the Developer Portal up and running where we will start listing our APIs, sharing more information about how they work technically, and what an application developer would need to consider technically when connecting.It’s been a real pleasure to work as part of the NDR Programme and the wider NHS in Wales. I am looking forward to being able to continue the work. The NDR and NHS in Wales is always on the lookoutfor talented individuals to get involved...