February 8 2019

Work stuff

Another week of shining visions of joined-up healthcare being ground to dust by grim reality as we continue to investigate service propositions for hooking 111 online into pharmacies.

Based on these (admittedly still fluctuating) propositions, we’re starting to map out flowcharts for users: ways of arriving at the service, routes through it, and ways out of it.

The relationship between the two artifacts is probably best described in terms of viewpoints. Our service propositions are service blueprints: they describe a process in terms of touchpoints and tasks, both for the user and for those providing the service. Blueprints have a high level sort-of-omniscient bird’s eye view. Our flowcharts focus on the user’s journey, and while there’s still a bird’s eye view, we’re describing multiple scenarios.

We also had our first chats with pharmacists, with more to come. It’s always good to be able to get a candid look at what happens on the ground. When services are actually delivered, what actually happens? How slavishly do providers stick to prescribed process? Are there useful hacks? What’s the burden of paperwork like (because there will always be one)?

Off the back of these chats, some staring into space has been happening around how we might be able to make pharmacies’ lives even just a tiny bit easier — what information is useful, and in what order? Are there any ways we can reduce shifting information via copy and paste? And so on.

Commissioned services and their relationship to reality

Working in the delivery arm (NHS Digital) of a multi-headed beast, it’ often the case that you’ve been tasked with delivering something that’s been implemented and sometimes works okay — but in a different channel. The attitude of “just putting it online” can be very real.

As a product team our relationship to policy and commissioned services is basically that of a consumer. It seems we don’t really have an effective feedback loop. During my time with the DHSC digital team the opposite was true — working with policy teams, we were able to bring design thinking and research into the creation of services at the point of policy-making. However the organisation didn’t seem at all empowered to deliver, to make things. So it goes.

Content design is fundamental to 111 online

This week I enjoyed discussions around how best to describe anal prolapse.