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Week 4: Meeting the users

Photo of me standing in front of an NHS sign saying Welcome to the Royal Berkshire Hospital, behind which is an old stone portico with the same name above the columns.

This week I joined colleagues on a trip to the Royal Berkshire Hospital to meet some of our users.

These users are part of a team who will be using our service to record the vaccinations of staff within the hospital, as part of a pilot (or private beta) phase.

It was great to get a tour of the vaccination centre, with its pods, waiting area, and the store room containing the secure fridge and freezer of vaccines.

I also loved seeing the walls full of checklists, charts showing vaccination numbers and feedback from staff who’d been vaccinated.

The main reason we were there was to demo the new service to the staff. However it also proved to be an invaluable research session for us, and I took pages of notes on their questions, delights and concerns.

Much of the rest of the week was spent building a guidance website for the pilot. We’ll use this to help communicate the limitations of the initial service, and how users can give us feedback.

The usability research continues, and I observed some sessions focused on user management. This is always a tricky issue, as the more complicated the permission levels are, the harder they can be to design, develop, test, and – crucially – for users to understand. So we’ll need to find a way to balance simplicity with flexibility, security and privacy.

Thoughtful Thursday

The wider directorate have planned a series of Thursday talks, and this week we heard from Ed Mullen from Nava, who gave us his story of working on HealthCare.gov and some of the lessons learnt.

It was definitely very thoughtful, with a description of the organisational characteristics of a ‘spiral of doom’ as well as the characteristics that lead to increasing success.

I was pleased to see that in this latter category, design systems, common tools and platforms were mentioned as a force multiplier (and massive cost saving).

NHS acronyms of the week

From my notes this week:

  • NBS (National Booking Service) – a service allowing the public to book vaccination appointments with vaccination centres and community pharmacies
  • P&P (Platforms and Product) - the directorate our unit sits in
  • HSCIC (Health and Social Care Information Centre) – this organisation no longer exists, having been merged into NHS Digital and then NHS England, but you still the acronym around