A better digital experience for Irish health

When the US Department of Health deleted 150,000 out of the 200,000 files that were available on its public website, nobody noticed. Too much content, too many websites, much of the content out-of-date. Important information hard to find and even when you found it, hard to understand. These are the classical symptoms of “orgitis”. Orgitis is “a condition that leads organizations to believe that the more websites, content or apps they publish, the more value they are creating.”

The Irish Health Services Executive (HSE) was diagnosed with orgitis. Historically, the main website (HSE.IE) has some 30,000 pages. Then there are more than 30 standalone websites, more than 35 microsites, 50+ social media accounts, 20 hospital websites, and multiple transactional portals. It’s confusing.

Orgitis is very common in Ireland, where the needs of organizations have nearly always come before the needs of the people they are supposed to serve. Where the powerful, instead of delivering good service, expect instead subservience. But the winds of change are blowing and every year the public becomes more educated, better connected, and less willing to accept poor service and condescending attitudes.

The Irish health service seems like it has spent the last twenty years in the emergency room. It feels like every time you turn on the radio, TV, or pick up a newspaper, there is a new crisis. The biggest recent one was the Cervical Check Scandal, where many women were not given the proper information in a timely manner.

There is now a real determination to get things right, to be transparent, to be clear, simple, easy to find, easy to use. A talented and passionate digital team is being assembled that is genuinely focused on delivering an excellent patient experience. To this end, in 2017, we did a Top Tasks analysis to find out what really matters to Irish people in relation to health. 3,500 people voted from all sections of Irish society. Here are there top 5 tasks:

  1. Waiting times (hospitals, clinics, other health services)
  2. Mental wellbeing (stress reduction, mindfulness, positive thinking)
  3. Costs and fees (treatment, drugs, consultant visits, care)
  4. Screening (breastcheck, retinal, bowel, cervical)
  5. Diagnosis of condition / disease

Not surprisingly, waiting times is number one. Mental wellbeing is number two, which is again not surprising, seeing that Irish people are finally rising above the stigma and silence in order to address critical wellbeing issues. Screening is the fourth most important task, reflecting the importance of preventative medicine.

Over the coming months, I’ll be delivering a series of webinars exploring how a patient-first, evidence-based approach is being used to help people find the health-related information they need. I’ll be examining how decisions are now being made based on evidence of what people are actually doing online, rather than based on opinions. It’s a process of discovery, of getting the language exactly right, of understanding how people search and navigate for health information. It’s about measuring the top tasks, seeing where the blockages are and designing ways to make things faster and simpler. It’s about measuring the outcomes of the people who use the service rather than the inputs and activities of the organization.

So, success will no longer be about launching a website or campaign or getting lots of traffic. Success will rather be about ensuring that Irish people can get the information they require in the simplest, faster, most accurate manner possible.

 

2 thoughts on “A better digital experience for Irish health

  1. Graham

    Hi Gerry, Sorry I missed your talk. I work at NHS digital. We’ve been defining the navigation for nhs.uk. I would be super keen to know if you’ll be posting either a transcript or video of the talk, please?

    Reply

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