Health and digital organisations team up to improve NHS.UK

22 Sep 2015, 1:10 pm

NHS England and the Department of Health have formed a cross-organisational team to oversee a project to improve the user experience of healthcare supersite NHS.UK, and to inform the next phase of its development.

Fingers on keyboardThe small team will include experts from the NHS Choices team at the Health and Social Care Information Centre, as well as people who work for or have previously worked for the Government Digital Service.

Some 49% of UK adults access health information online and NHS Choices, the UK’s biggest health website, receives about 27 million unique visits every month. But information and services are often not joined up across NHS’s 3,000 websites, and many tasks such as registering with a GP, cannot be done online at all.

Only 10.1% of patients order repeat prescriptions online and only 6.4% book GP appointments online, according to the last GP Patient Survey from the NHS.

The 12-week project is aimed at improving the digital user experience in a number of ways. According to a blog by Helen Rowntree, Head of Digital Services at NHS England and Adam Bye, Deputy Director (Digital) at the Department of Health, it will firstly investigate people’s experiences dealing with the health and care system.

Frontline needs

The team will speak to frontline staff about their needs, use their findings to identify opportunities to improve online information and digital services then test out potential solutions. The team will then form a plan to realise the prototypes and the next phase of NHS.UK overall.

The team will also set out a plan on standards and guidance to support other teams that are building digital services on NHS.UK.

“A 12-week project isn’t going to solve all the digital delivery challenges facing the health and care system”, write Rowntree and Bye in the blog. “This is about setting a clear vision for NHS.UK, with prototypes that demonstrate the opportunities and a plan that gets us to the next stage.

“It’s also about increasing understanding of and confidence in a more digital, more agile, more user-led approach in health and care. After the 12 weeks, we will be doing more work to learn and consult.”

The results will be shared as they emerge in the coming weeks via the blog and the Twitter hashtag #NHSalpha.