Feedback from parent focus groups and healthcare professionals across Wessex in 2015 highlighted a key issue with the delivery of healthcare to children across care pathways.
This was a lack of standardised resources for parents and carers online about common illnesses, and also the knowledge if your child needs to be seen by a healthcare professional and if so how urgently.
This was the catalyst for Dr. Sanjay Patel, a consultant in paediatric infectious diseases working at Southampton Children’s Hospital to launch the Healthier Together Initiative. The core principles being that parents could feel empowered about whether or not they need to seek the advice of a healthcare professional, to receive consistent and appropriate advice and to be clearly signposted to appropriate healthcare services.
To achieve this, a user friendly and engaging public facing website and app was required for parents, young people and healthcare professional to interact with.
Due to the nature of the website and app required by parents/young people and Frank’s emphasis on scoping with all of their digital projects, an iterative design process was agreed and put in place.
This allowed Frank, in partnership with Healthier Together, to consult widely with parents, users and experts by experience to define a simple user journey and the quick and concise delivery of information.
It was clear from the feedback that users didn’t just want another text-heavy website; they wanted image-led, colour-coded and simple-to-follow information. If there is a medical emergency, the ability to look at something quickly and make a snap decision is paramount. In addition, the look and feel of the website needed to reflect their user groups and user experience, so Parents/Carers, Young People and Professionals all had areas of the site designed and developed for them.
The scoping and engagement stage with users was so successful that users actually wanted to push and develop the website further. One example of this was parents wanting the ability for their GPs to share relevant information on the website with them via text message during consultations. Thus an 'SMS Share' button was added to every page of the website, giving the user the ability to share by SMS message a web link of that page, an effective and simple way of sharing information and meeting users' needs.
Impact of the website
For Frank, this is a website project we particularly proud of, due to the interaction with users at scoping, the Show and Tell meetings with the client during development, and the ability to deliver bespoke functionality for healthcare users.
For Wessex Healthier Together, the website has been a major success: both website sessions and number of users are up over 300% a year and through health literacy classes they are beginning to see reductions in families attending A&E for minor illnesses.