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Blog Joining forces to champion user-centred design

Matt Edgar, Victoria Betton and Simon Dixon introduce a new industry working group set up to bring the NHS and tech sector together to advance the cause of user-centred design in health and care

Right across the NHS and the tech sector there’s a growing movement of people with a passion for understanding patient and clinicians needs, and involving them in the design of services.

Expertise in user-centred design can be found anywhere – in national organisations, local health and care systems, and the health tech industry.

By bringing this community together, we’ll be better able to advocate for user-centred design in all aspects of digital technology made by and for the NHS.

With that in mind, TechUK, NHSX, and NHS Digital has formed an industry working group: the User-Centred Design Working Group.

 

The idea is for each working group meeting to focus on a different theme. For the first one, we chose the role of standards in user-centred design.

We put out a call to TechUK members, and on the NHS service manual public Slack workspace, and assembled a group of 20 experts from industry and NHS for our first meeting.


Using the NHS Digital Service Manual in the COVID-19 response

Meeting remotely on a Zoom call, we learnt how the NHS digital service manual has been used heavily in the COVID-19 response, both within national teams and by local NHS organisations, to create usable, accessible and inclusive services at speed (for example, the Virtual Visits service).

The service manual team is now re-starting its work after focusing on the NHS’s COVID-19 response and is developing a roadmap with NHSX, so this is the perfect time for a conversation about the role of standards in user-centred design.

As a group, we used a shared Miro board to chew over some questions, including what should and should not be consistent about the design of health systems.

Themes that came out of the group’s discussion included a desire to promote good practice for user involvement; inclusion, both in terms of digital access and wider societal barriers; and how we can make sure our design processes are evidence-driven and outcome-oriented.


A desire for consistency but not uniformity

Participants wanted some consistency of key elements of presentation and style and clear language throughout services, but also wanted flexibility of application.

While standards have an important role to play, working group members said that there are other means to promote consistency of user experience.

Areas for future consideration include: interoperability and integration between different services and suppliers, and how to design across whole clinical pathways (online, offline and multi-channel).


What happens next?

Areas for future consideration include: interoperability and integration between different services and suppliers, and how to design across whole clinical pathways (online, offline and multi-channel).

Participants in our working group want to work with other communities, notably clinicians, patients, the quality improvement movement, and academic researchers to promote user-centricity.

One theme that came out strongly was how to show the business value of good design based on evidence of effectiveness.

We can contribute to growing skills through existing initiatives such as the NHS Digital Academy and new initiatives focused on user-centred design. There was a strong desire to collaborate across the community and to share assets, patterns and examples of good practice.

One theme that came out strongly was how to show the business value of good design based on evidence of effectiveness. We’ve made this the topic of our next working group session.

We’ll be sharing all the outputs from the working group on this blog, both as a way to be transparent and open but also to provide inspiration and collateral for everyone who is passionate about the role of user-centred design in making better NHS services.

Dr Victoria Bretton, Matt Edgar and Simon Dixon are co-chairs of the NHS and TechUK User-Centred Design Working Group.

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Last edited: 27 January 2021 11:38 am