We integrated complex decision making technology into the NHS Direct health and symptom checkers, helping more patients to address their symptoms online.

The Challenge

NHS Direct is committed to improving its publicly available digital services in England by enhancing the tailored health information it provides to patients online.

NHS Direct identified a number of challenges with their existing online service. One notable challenge was developing and updating website content using a bespoke content management system. Roger Donald, Head of Digital Delivery for NHS Direct, commented on the limitations of the existing system, "The publishing process was time consuming and required the involvement of technically trained staff to update content."

NHS Direct wanted to:

Enable more patients to address their symptoms online, reducing the need for patients to visit their GP or an Accident & Emergency unit.
Improve the look and feel of its health and symptom checkers as well as ensuring they are easy to use.
Ensure that managing and updating content would be quick and easy for its staff and controlled by workflow.
Understand complex patient journeys so that the online services can be fine tuned over time.
Syndicate its health and symptom checker services to other channels, such as partner websites and mobile platforms.
Demonstrate cost savings to the wider NHS

The Solution

NHS Direct chose to re-build their online services using Sitecore, one of the most advanced content management systems (CMS) on the market. We were recommended by Sitecore to the Prime Contractor, InferMed Limited, because of our track record in delivering complex projects for other customers.

The solution, developed by Eduserv and InferMed, delivered a number of new features including:

  • Simple authoring of complex clinical algorithms for display to patients as health and symptom checkers.
  • Integration of the Sitecore CMS with InferMed’s clinical decision support technology - Arezzo - allowing syndicated health and symptom checkers for partner websites, including pharmacies and charities.
  • Close integration between the online services and the NHS Direct call centre, enabling patients to move seamlessly from the health and symptom checker to a trained health professional.
  • About 30,000 patients using the digital service everyday.
  • Department for Health ratified cost savings to the wider NHS of £100million in year one.
  • Patients able to assess their condition online, with a range of advice given - including self-care or to call 999, go to A&E, as well as offering nurse call-backs for those patients in need of a more detailed assessment.
  • During the first four months of the new health and symptom checker service, over three million users were measured online.
  • Quickly find a local GP, Pharmacist, Dentist or A&E Unit through the ‘Find your nearest...’ search feature, integrated with Google Maps.
  • Quick and easy to publish and edit online content.

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