The temptation when tackling something this complex is to spend ages thinking and prioritising. We can’t and shouldn’t do that. Ultimately there is no right answer (although there are probably some wrong answers). You’ve just got to pick something and start.
But even knowing where to start can be difficult. What should we focus on? What will add the most value?
So we’re starting with two health conditions and two transactional areas: mild to moderate anxiety, diabetes, appointment booking and registering for a GP.
There were a few things we took into account when making this decision:
- What mattered to users
- Key priorities for the health and social care system
- The level of impact something would have
- The scalability (i.e. the potential of something to be used across multiple areas of the system in line with the GDS government-as-a-platform approach)
We then carried out some deeper exploration (primarily user and experience maps) in order to ascertain whether our initial list of areas were both viable and ambitious enough to take forward for the project.
I’m Matt, the product manager on the NHS.UK alpha. This post will give you an insight into how those early user experience maps helped us to refine our focus for the alpha.
User experience maps
A user experience map was the team’s way of identifying pain points and opportunities for digital transformation through the experience of users. We looked at specific areas, type 2 diabetes and mild to moderate anxiety and depression, to identify potential digital opportunities across health. If it worked in our specific examples, could it work across health?
Our first step was to map these ourselves. Using our own experience and making assumptions to build a basic outline of how we *thought* the experience might happen.
This is how one of our first maps for diabetes looked:
It is pretty clear that it lacks medical and user input, so that was our next step. We immediately started talking to patients with diabetes and healthcare professionals. (Martin, our user researcher will talk more about our approach to research in a later post) We used these insights to further understand the user needs and also where opportunities scaled across health, not just in our chosen areas.
After speaking with users and healthcare professionals we had a much richer user experience map. That’s not to say we’ve stopped researching, we haven’t. There are a lot more people we would like to talk to. However, with just 12 weeks to deliver i’m keen for us to start prototyping early.
Where we started
One of things that struck us from our experience maps was the number of interactions users have with different parts of the health and care system. We also observed that booking – whether GP consultations, blood tests, referrals to secondary care or other cases – is a potential area of significant opportunity for improving people’s experience of that system. That’s why we’ve started our prototyping with booking.
The booking landscape is a complex one. GPs offer online booking, but not all appointments are always available online. The e-referral system offers booking in to secondary care but is a different experience from GP booking. There’s also inclusion issues – how do we ensure we don’t disadvantage those who don’t use online services?
These are just some of the questions and issues we have been thinking about in our prototyping. This has led us to think about how and why users book appointments and how this experience could be improved.
So we’ve started to create some booking prototypes to learn more about it. We’ll talk more about this in a forthcoming blog.