The Pharmacy Council Te Pou Whakamana Kaimatū o Aotearoa is a regulator of health professionals in New Zealand. Its purpose is to protect the public by ensuring pharmacists are competent and fit to practise. It seeks to demonstrate effective, proportionate regulation in a way that is cost-effective and acceptable

Alongside other key functions, the Pharmacy Council manages qualifications and registrations and sets competence standards for registered pharmacists. In 2020, the Pharmacy Council changed its requirements for professional recertification and was looking for a new platform where pharmacists could record evidence of their professional development activities to meet these revised annual recertification requirements.

Early in the project the Pharmacy Council recognised that an accessible, contemporary online platform would play an important role in engaging pharmacists with the new requirements.


Prior to procuring Catalyst’s services, the Pharmacy Council conducted a comprehensive analysis of its workflows and recertification process. This enabled a streamlined solution design phase with Catalyst before development began.

The partnership between Catalyst and the Pharmacy Council was collaborative, using a positive, problem-solving approach. The user experience for the pharmacist was prioritised throughout the project.

Solution – recertification

Mahara, provided by Catalyst, was one of several products that the Pharmacy Council considered in a competitive procurement process. Council was aware of its use in the healthcare sector throughout Aotearoa New Zealand, including District Health Boards.

Mahara is an open source ePortfolio application that has been actively developed for 15 years, primarily in Aotearoa New Zealand by Catalyst, with contributions from the world-wide community. It is used around the world in the education sector as well as in the workplace. Mahara supports organisations in creating different types of portfolios, making it a flexible portfolio platform for numerous learning, professional development, and evaluation scenarios.

From the outset, the Pharmacy Council was willing to share innovations that came from the MyRecert project in the spirit of open source. Over half of the development work for MyRecert was added to the Mahara codebase and so became available to the entire Mahara community. These additions improved the usability of Mahara, supported the creation and management of portfolio templates, and added new integration points for external applications.

“We were attracted to the open-source concept as being contemporary, adaptive and cost-efficient over time. Mahara as the basis for this project was a proven product, providing us with important assurance of quality.” Michael Pead, Chief Executive, Pharmacy Council

The Pharmacy Council is a small public sector organisation which must also work to ensure its funds are used carefully. Open source allows it to balance cost-efficiency and innovation. Adaptive and incremental improvements work better for the organisation than cycles of wholesale replacement, and open source provides the organisation with ongoing adaptability of a proven product that can continue to be tailored to its needs.

A smooth roll-out was critical to engaging pharmacists with the new system. Catalyst delivered the project on time and on budget and MyRecert went live on 1 April 2021, the start of the new recertification year. Feedback so far indicates that MyRecert has been straightforward to use.

Catalyst supported the Pharmacy Council in this project throughout the entire software development lifecycle. From planning, facilitated by requirements gathering the Council had conducted as part of the tender process, to solution design, development of changes and new features to Mahara, graphic design of MyRecert to match the brand of Pharmacy Council, technical testing and peer review, deployment, and support through a workshop and short instructional videos.

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