• 12Apr

    From NHS Choices to the integrated customer service platform

    In the recent issue of Health Information & Libraries Journal, Bob Gann, Director of Partnerships & Strategy at NHS Choices talks about the transition from NHS Choices to the new integrated customer service platform. Here is an extract from the article; the full version can be found in the journal, which is open access for this issue.

    In 2013 the NHS Commissioning Board launches its new integrated customer service platform. The new service utilises the full range of channels (web, telephone, apps etc) to provide access to information to support transparency, participation and transactions. Digital health services have proven benefits in informed choice, shared decision making and patient participation.

    At the end of 2012, NHS Choices recorded its 500 millionth visit. By any calculation this is an impressive achievement. Since its launch in 2007 NHS Choices[1] has become central to the health information landscape. Some other figures give an indication of the scale of the enterprise: a hundred thousand pages of content; links to over a thousand quality assured third party sites; provision of syndicated content to over three hundred partner websites; the most used public sector website in UK after the Met Office; the most used health website in the world outside the USA.

    So why is it all change in 2013? At the simplest level because the current contract with the delivery partner Capita expires. But the changes since 2007 are more fundamental than that. NHS Choices was established in a very different world from the one we face today: politically, financially and technologically. NHS Choices was a child of the Blair administration, driven by then Health Secretary Patricia Hewitt as a legacy project and a major central government initiative. Today’s Coalition Government is much more inclined to decentralised programmes which give opportunities for independent developers and small enterprises. NHS Choices secured funding in 2007 just before the 2008 global financial crisis. Today we will find it hard to achieve these levels of funding and will need to make every penny work a lot harder. And the technological environment when NHS Choices was founded was a very different one, based on major destination websites. Today we have opportunities, particularly in mobile, apps and social media, which we would not have foreseen in 2007.

    Gann, B. and Grant, M. J. (2013), From NHS Choices to the integrated customer service platform. Health Information & Libraries Journal, 30: 1–3. doi: 10.1111/hir.12020