The NHS Reinvents its National Digital Channel Strategy with BJSS and SPARCK
NHSX, on behalf of NHS England & NHS Improvement, was leading the world's largest digital health and social care transformation programme.
In February 2022, NHSX integrated into the NHS Transformation Directorate, the latter of which is now leading the health service's transformation efforts. Part of this programme involves setting ambitious goals to provide people with the information and tools needed to manage their health and care.
“Give people the tools to access information and services directly, so they can best take charge of their own health and care."
NHSX Mission 2
The use of digital services and tools in the NHS has gathered significant momentum since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic. In 2021, the NHS App was the most downloaded app across England. But despite this progress, the NHS is still on a journey to providing a nationally consistent, digital and personalised health and care experience.
NHSX recognised the need for a vision of what role digital technology should play in helping people better manage their health. Therefore, it wanted to reimagine the NHS's digital customer experience (CX) strategy for people-facing digital products.
The challenge was to understand how the NHS could use both the customer experience success stories from adjacent industries as well as their own digital achievements to set out the principles, strategy, and channel roadmap for people-facing digital services.
Working with the NHSX team for over 20 weeks, BJSS and its digital design brand, SPARCK, took a user-centred design approach to undertake a customer experience discovery, including:
Direct and secondary research with NHS patients and customers
1:1 interviews and workshops with NHS colleagues currently delivering frontline and digital services at a national and local level; and
Consultations with customer experience leaders from across a range of industries.
The team used the output from these activities to establish an experience baseline across a diverse cross-section of citizens/patients, including those with high and low digital access/expectations.
Given the complexity of needs across the user experience and the current digital landscape in the NHS, BJSS worked with NHSX to iteratively build the framework and recommendations for the national customer experience. This building block approach enabled the team to challenge the status quo of digital expectations gradually.
BJSS then defined the “north star" for what CX should look like for the NHS going forward, including how national digital services should be used to achieve this.
“BJSS helped us define our CX vision and the role our national digital channels play in putting health and care directly in the hands of people in the future. They ensured this was not only grounded in best practice but brought to life for multiple audiences, laying the foundations for CX principles/thinking being embedded across our work."
Emma Bradley, Head of Customer Experience, NHS Transformation Directorate
As a result of this work, BJSS and SPARCK helped to deliver numerous benefits for the NHS.
The NHS now has a clear CX vision and set of principles, which outline the future state of customer experience across the health service. These assets act as “guardrails" when designing new products and services.
The BJSS team also delivered a comprehensive CX measurement framework aligned to the CX principles to encourage continuous improvement.
Additionally, the NHS now has a clear national digital channel strategy, setting out the value propositions for each channel and the ambition for how they should work within the health and care ecosystem.
BJSS provided the NHS with an extensive list of recommendations for delivering on the CX vision and principles, which will be integral to rolling out the national digital channel strategy.
NHSX has socialised the outcome of this work across key NHS stakeholders, with the programme's next steps announced in a blog by Emma McLachlan, Director of Digital Experience at NHSX, in October 2021.
The Transformation Directorate of NHS England and NHS Improvement is now using the outcome of this work to deliver the next stage of the national digital channel strategy.