Moving towards patient-centred care online – Arif Govani, Head of Customer Experience and Strategy, NHS England

, NHS Choices Beta

arif pic4Every organisation is expected to have an online presence; it’s probably more embarrassing now to say that you don’t have one than not having a business card. The usefulness of the online presence varies from limited information to high value transactions, like travel and banking.

The banking industry is often cited as the exemplar of how consumers have benefited from the online revolution, and it’s not been without its struggle, which the sector gradually overcame. However, it’s not been until recently that online banking has exponentially taken off. The key reason in my opinion is the availability of mobile banking (apps). With the launch of these apps, the banking industry has finally bridged the gap between the rational need (i.e. the need to interact with the bank to run your business/home) to the emotional need of the public. My interaction with my bank has changed since then; it’s available to me when I need it and with a great user experience – empowering me to deal with the service when and how I want it.

My interaction with my bank involved visiting the branch twice a year (if that), but with these tools available to me now the relationship has deepened, and if I had to summarise the shift in mindset, I would say I feel in control.

Yet, health and care, which I value more than my money, is far behind – but that’s all changing. There is a strong movement towards patient-centred care, a movement that is too strong to resist, and rightly so. In the midst of this transformation is our health and care digital service (most notably NHS Choices), a service that has been live since 2007 with 40m visits per month. The service has gradually evolved and gained traffic over the years transforming it into the largest health information site in Europe. Evolving this fantastic service is what we, NHS England, have been tasked with.

As the new commissioners since April 2013, we have been working closely with the NHS Choices team to develop a plan to evolve the service going forward, with input from our stakeholders (the public and other health and care organisations). What we promise is a service that responds quicker to what our users want, deepens the relationship with patients and delivers a great experience, not just rationally but on an emotional level.

These are some of the headlines, not all, and I will hopefully detail in future entries what exactly we are doing. There is a vision and strategy paper that I hope to share soon as well.

We are also committed to ensuring that industry partners can take advantage of our developments and deliver our content, data and transactions where they want to, making it more accessible to the public.

It’s a privilege representing my team in NHS England and the NHS Choices delivery team – these are great people who are passionate about what they are doing, and you will see the result in the near future. Their journey is going to be long, but after nearly a year inside NHS England, I can say with certainty that it has begun – and our first opportunity to demonstrate our future direction will be at the Health and Care Innovation Expo 2014(#Expo14NHS).

Our stand at the Expo – called the Digital Zone – is not just for showing our direction, it is designed to get your feedback, tell us what you want or, even better, show us!

Look forward to seeing you in Manchester 3rd-4th March.

Arif Govani
Head of Customer Experience and Strategy
NHS England

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