February 1 2019


Work stuff

We’ve started to look at how 111 online could help people who need an emergency prescription (technically a repeat prescription for a short period).

Imagine you’re somewhere away from home and managed to forget your meds. Or you’ve lost them. Or you’ve come off them but need to go back on. How could a digital service help link you to getting those meds?

Exploring the landscape

It feels like whenever you start to think about a service feature in the NHS, there’ll be several things already happening in parallel. 111 telephony often has existing workflows and pilots such as NUMSAS and DMIRS. Exploring what’s out there can give a head start in terms of understanding the service landscape. (These things are always acronyms.)

We started to line up chats with pharmacists and recruiting users who’ve been through the this experience. Without understanding how things really work (or don’t) in reality, we won’t be able to design good things.

Starting out with investigation or “discovery” is invaluable. We could easily create problems or add pointless burdens if we’re not aware of the context and environment in which our own service operates, and mindful of the problems we’re aiming to solve.

Generating ideas

In parallel to our investigation, we ran a team session to generate ideas. Over an hour that probably felt like a lifetime to those attending, I ran a sketch session: warmup, paired sketching followed by playback. The central exercise being “How can I get an emergency prescription using 111 online?”.

At this point we’re trying not to latch onto solutions, it’s more about generating ideas and themes. In the team, the familiarity with the pharmacy area ranged from zero to domain expert. Because of this there was a natural spread of thinking, from imagined system workflows to high level user journeys.

During playback we gathered post-its of interesting points which were then grouped and themed. This grouping and theming gives points to design against, a way to distill the team’s ideas for the next stage. I quite like to have at least something vague in mind for a feature, which can then be repeatedly smashed against the rocks of our research — even from very early on.

The latter part of the week has been starting to flesh out early days service blueprints and journey maps. These will be torn apart pretty quickly, but they’re a start. They’ll help us to gain an understanding of the possible (and near-future possible), help us figure out what existing data sources and platforms we should be looking at, and what we might think about building ourselves.

Other stuff

I have nothing outside of work to share. I expect this will be the default.