Published on: 20th July 2021
At Frank, we don’t just build websites. At the heart of our business is a drive to support the NHS in their daily operations through digital solutions. With an ageing population, who have increasingly complex health needs, the health and social care system is being asked to do more with fixed resources. Digital solutions can’t solve challenges with capacity, but they can help our clients to work more efficiently and better communicate with their service users about using the right service, at the right time. Following on from our piece on Document Management, this is the next in a series of posts about how Frank have worked with our clients to develop bespoke solutions to operational challenges.
It starts with a problem, or an opportunity to improve. In this example, our client (a mental health and community Trust covering a large geographical patch) had experienced some complaints about patients and carers having trouble contacting services via their website. Anecdotally, they suspect this could contribute to patients attending A&E and GP surgeries inappropriately, and reception switchboards taking unnecessary enquiries.
To fix the problem, we need to look at the cause. Root cause analysis identified two principal issues:
- Out of date website content (Communications departments often do not have the resources to chase all services individually for updates to their web pages, and services struggle to find capacity to respond, often missing the initial reminder)
- Organisational change (mergers and acquisitions have caused some confusion over which services are offered in which localities)
With the issues understood, a requirement can be formed. Good requirements definition is the key to ensuring that development results in an effective solution. In this case, requirements were identified to address each of the points above:
- Service leads need to be reminded to review their web content without the need for intervention by the Communications department
- Service users need to understand which services are available in their own localities, but information needs to be managed in one place where possible (rather than multiple pages for each locality)
From a requirement, a solution is developed. With the client’s input, Frank built, configured and tested two new features:
- Page review functionality – Alerts are automatically sent to a page owner (e.g. the service lead) when their page is due for review. In this instance the client wanted pages reviewed every 12 months. The page owner receives an automated reminder a month before it is due for review and then weekly after the review date has passed. The Communications team have a dashboard in the back end which lists any pages which have passed their review date.
Initially, for the Communications team, this took a bit of effort to identify all the page owners and communicate the new process with them. However, the outcome has been that the Communications team spend less time chasing updates and the website has less out of date content.
- Locality tags – Service pages are tagged with one or more locality, depending on which area the service is available in. Users use a simple map to click on their locality and are presented with an A-Z list of services available to them. In the back end, if a page appears in more than one locality, the pages are an “alias” page, meaning that the Communications team only needs to update one page (rather than one for each area).
Whilst time is required on the client side to ensure service lists are up to date (e.g. with which localities they serve), once complete, the information can be imported by Frank through code which saves time tagging each page. The outcome has been that users can now more easily find the relevant services, and therefore the correct contact details. The Communications team can easily add localities to page with a click of a button, as services are reconfigured across the region.
Building these solutions isn’t just about helping a client to manage their website more efficiently. Ultimately, it is about the benefits delivered. In this case, the new functionality has contributed to improved patient satisfaction, operational efficiency and quality of service, as users are able to find the right contact information whilst ensuring they are seen by the right service, at the right time.