Archive for the ‘nhs’ Tag

Servicing the Health Service

Here’s an interesting article from a perspective inside the NHS about my current project ‘Diagnosis Live from the Clinic’ and how it relates to the necessary reform of the NHS and the prerequisite innovation around its service delivery. It is written by Sophia Christie, Chief Executive of NHS Birmingham East and North, who is on assignment to the Department of Health, and was published in the Health Service Journal at

Wired in: digital service delivery can put healthcare into the home

The success of new technologies in major sectors such as retail and travel has put control and convenience in the hands of the consumer. Why then is the health sector not thinking “digital by default”?

Over the last decade, service content and delivery in travel, banking and retail has made a radical shift to the phone and the web, at the greater convenience and control of the consumer.

With this as the context for the rest of our lives, using the health service is becoming an increasingly frustrating experience for many people. In 2009, there were 450 million clinical interactions in the NHS, costing £42bn. Face-to-face interactions made up 84 per cent of the activity and 98 per cent of the cost. Costs and use have continued to rise, but proportions of face-to-face activity have remained steady.

“Digital by default” may have been adopted as a design principle across government, but in the NHS we don’t think to offer contact other than as face to face, even for administrative activity. Much of our contact with services is more transactional.

Recent discussions in response to the white paper and consultation on the information strategy have highlighted three goals, which should underpin the relationship between the NHS and the citizen if we are to sustain our position as dearly beloved British institution with a new generation of users:

  • People should feel in control of their health and care, as citizens and members of communities;
  • Accessible, accurate information should support informed choice and greater safety;
  • Services should be multi-channel to enable convenience, efficiency and effectiveness.

The three are clearly inter-related; we are unlikely to feel “in control” if we cannot routinely access information about our own care, or have to reorganise our working day for the convenience of the outpatients department. The NHS has a track record in the adoption of new clinical technology, but we need to apply this innovation to the process of service delivery.

On 25 May, a new series begins on Channel 4, Diagnosis: Live from the Clinic. Produced by Maverick TV, it builds on the success of the Embarrassing Bodies series and the groundbreaking “NHS Local” digital service they developed with NHS West Midlands. The series will feature live consultations with doctors using Skype to support discussion of a range of minor and common conditions.

Channel 4 is set to expand its audience into a slightly older, more family oriented group than the Embarrassing Bodies viewers. That series was backed up with an increasingly interactive and popular website, where viewers have been able to link into self-tests for a range of conditions, and signposting on to services.

Maverick reports that in two months the My Healthchecker app has been used 650,000 times, and the website recently passed 10 million visits.

Diagnosis: Live from the Clinic proposes to go further, supporting individual consultations on the site after each programme, based on NHS Direct algorithms, with the potential to link to NHS Direct as appropriate. The service has been able to schedule its workload in anticipation of a surge of interest in certain conditions following each broadcast.

The use of Skype will cause us to reflect on why we don’t routinely plan for these types of consultation, or exploit the potential of text and email for queries and routine communications. We need to understand those who are digitally excluded, but in 2009 more than 80 per cent of adults had a mobile phone, and 31 per cent of these had web access. Meanwhile, 73 per cent of homes have internet access. There is a huge opportunity here for technology to support the home as the hub of care.

Some situations will require face to face, but opening up alternative channels for more transactional activity will release time and space for those who really need that. Older people are the lowest users of the internet, but the fastest growing group, and their children and carers are web savvy.

Policy in this area is still developing, and will rightly be subject to lively internal and public debate. But our public are changing, and if we cannot serve them effectively, others will do it instead.

{courtesy of the Health Service Journal  }

The NHS and Computers

NHS + Computers = Bad for your well-being

The fruits of 45 minutes (so far) trying to register for online Repeat Prescription Facility…

Frankly a scandal – how much public money did they pay for this shit?

This site was made by Egton Medical Information Systems Limited in Leeds.

Postscript: Trying to feedback to Egton

The crowning glory – hitting the Submit button on the Contact form of this Medical Information Systems (ha) outfit to feedback this crappy experience repeatedly gave rise to…

The Submit button alone for the Contact form tells you all you need to know about this kind of technology company (stuff made by programmers with little sense of UX)…

along with the typos littering the site and the way they handle Customer Service…

Update 14.i.10:

Here’s how the NHS does formatted emails… (just arrived from the NHS Institute – whatever that is)

NHS email

The Embarrassing Bodies effect

As I was walking past the University of London’s Bloomsbury Theatre the other day (on my way through strike-bound London to the pick-up point for the Tech Bus to b.Tween 09 in Liverpool) I noticed a poster advertising a stand-up gig in October by “television’s heartthrob medic” Dr Christian Jessen of Embarrassing Bodies talking to the student-centric audience about health matters. The same day I came across this piece a good few miles from the big smoke, typifying the impact of Embarrassing Bodies and indicating why the NHS should plug into its success:

Dr Christian Jessen of Embarrassing Bodies

Health fayre aims to target the young

Jun 10 2009 by Lynda Nicol, East Kilbride News

THE popular television programme Embarrassing Bodies has proved young folk are just as interested in their own health as older generations.

Being able to look after yourself – and seek prompt medical advice on problems, no matter how bashful you may feel about it – is something people should learn when they are young.

With this in mind, Greenhills and East Kilbride South Youth Club are joining forces with NHS Lanarkshire to stage a health fayre at the club tomorrow (Thursday).

There will be a range of stalls offering health checks and advice on a variety of health issues.

Young people from throughout the area are invited to go along between 7pm and 10pm and they will be able to talk frankly about any health comcerns they may have.

Club leader Councillor Archie Buchanan said: “I am very pleased to be working with NHS Lanarkshire in providing health-related advice to the young people who attend our youth club.”

And he added: “The health fayre will, I am sure, be well received by the young people attending.”

The question is, of course, how can Greenhills and East Kilbride South Youth Club and NHS Lanarkshire make best use of the kind of engagement a heartthrob medic like Dr Christian inspires? (Using the interactive content on the Embarrassing Bodies website – especially the Embarrassing Teenage Bodies part with its Am I Normal? videos – is not a bad place to start.)


Embarrassing Bodies

Had a rather good day at work! 100,000 people used the videos commissioned for my latest project, Embarrassing Bodies, in the first two hours after broadcast of the kick-off show last night. That bodes well for a lot of self-checking and preventive health activity. One Self-Check Video was viewed 24,000 times in those two hours. And there were well over half a million pageviews in the first 12 hours. NHS eat your heart out… (or more productively and with less risk of MRSA, work with Channel 4 to get this kind of thing across effectively.)

Another C4 speciality is scheduling. Tonight’s a classic:
21:00 Embarrassing Bodies
22:00 Michael Barrymore – What Really Happened? (Honest, Officer, I’ve no idea how that embarrassing body got there…)

Embarrassing Bodies TV: Maverick TV
Web: Maverick TV and Made Media

Guardian article by Jemima Kiss

%d bloggers like this: