Lack of access to online route
Many participants noted that an online service would not always be the best option as there can be language barriers, a lack of access to digital devices, the internet, and digital skills.
It was clear that the existing paper service would be able to bridge this gap. We are also working on updating the paper form, so it aligns with the digital service and ensures GP practices gather a standard set of information about new patients.
Additionally, we were told we need to make sure that the service is advertised in the right places so that as many people as possible know about it and can access it if they choose to.
Almost all users told us it was important to make the form available in different languages.
Whilst we don't currently support users for whom English is not their first language within the online service, all of our services use a simple writing style laid out in the NHS Digital Service Manual. Register with a GP surgery is already being tested with online translation tools to ensure people can easily use these tools within the service.
We also learned a lot about the content of our pages that was not related to the language it was written in, but the way that things were written and the phrases and terms that we used.
We learned that the service felt too transactional and that this was something they had experienced in other government and NHS services.
Some pages were felt to be overwhelming, with a lot of text to read. This could be particularly difficult for people who do not usually communicate in English or have difficulties with reading.
Terms such as ‘GP ’caused confusion for some users, who would not know what a GP was, and instead used the word ‘doctor’.
Another example was where we asked a question about someone’s ‘current home address’. Some people felt that this was strange wording to use, as lots of people do not have a home of their own and, even if they have an address to provide, it might not be a place that they would consider their home (for example, a shelter or a friend’s house).
We found that people were more likely to trust the service and use it if the text we used was simplified. We were told that some pages were not always written in the warmest way, which could put people off continuing with the service. To change this, the content team have changed elements of the content – for example, asking questions more directly: “Do you need an language interpreter” or “Which language do you need an interpreter for?”
Whenever a service asks a question, it needs to be clear about why that information is needed.
- Why does it need to know this personal information about me?
- What is the intent of this question?
- What is it going to be used for?
- Why should I trust the NHS to have and keep this information about me?
The team did several content reviews around the question set to make sure that the service only asks what it absolutely must for a registration. In response, a feature was designed into the service to explain why information was being sought.
The user can see why a particular question is being asked using a ‘Why are you asking this?’ drop-down option.