Creating the NHS Patient Webinars Platform

Easing the pressure off GPs and Dietitians by offering a one-stop-shop for self-help webinars and resources for patients suffering from gut-related conditions.

Patient Webinars started as a small project created by NHS Community Dietitians in Somerset for patients with a Somerset GP. The idea of the site was simple – to create a tool that would allow GPs, consultants, endoscopy nurses and dietitians to signpost patients to a reliable and accurate source of information and encourage patient self-management.

The team decided to create a simple proof of concept in mid-2017 and a basic WordPress website was launched in April 2019.  This was was incredibly well received and provided huge amounts of value and within the first year of operation, the webinars had reduced the specialist dietetic 1-1 clinic referrals by 44%. The team were awarded a number of accolades from national bodies including NHS England and NHS Digital for their efforts, but more importantly, they had demonstrated that digital health technology can help solve many resource issues within the NHS. The webinars which have been created have been used to help treat patients across Somerset and are being accessed by patients throughout the UK and in over 60 countries globally.

NHS – Somerset Partnership Trust
March 2020

They were awarded a small amount of funding from the South West Academic Health Science Network to help take the project to the next level.

The team approached us and asked us how we could take this forward and help get this into the hands of more healthcare professionals and their patients across the region. We were absolutely delighted to be involved and agreed that given the current global COVID-19 pandemic and the strain it is clearly putting on the NHS, we would work to get this ‘live’ as fast as possible. If this tool could contribute to easing some of the burden on the NHS, then this was something that we were going to prioritise to the best of our abilities.

After sitting down with the team, it was decided to lay the initial version to rest and create a new site from scratch, giving a more focus on improving the structure of the content, usability of the site and to build trust in the content that patients were consuming.

When building digital products for the NHS and central Government, there are very clear guidelines and resources on how best to do this. We felt it was our responsibility to ensure that we follow the guidelines laid out as best as possible, while trying to ensure the site maintains a personality and warmth.

The NHS provides the “Digital Service Manual” which documents in amazing detail, the design principles for publicly accessible digital tools on-behalf of the NHS. This manual helped us define colours, typography and many components which contribute to the design and build of this project. As we were using funded money, it was important that we didn’t waste time ‘reinventing the wheel’, but instead worked as smart as possible, utilising the tools and methodologies which had already been created for us by NHS.

As we felt confident that many of the components we were using had already been tested by the team at NHS digital, this allowed us to design and build quickly, without the need for excessive further validation and testing.

“What The Idea Bureau have created is exceptional and it has been incredible working with such a dedicated, professional and talented team. The website will help thousands of people in Somerset and far beyond, with many NHS teams requesting to use it nationally during this COVID-19 pandemic. What The Idea Bureau have produced may change the way we work in community dietetics for many years to come, proving that digital healthcare is possible far beyond this present pandemic crisis.”

Marianne Williams
Dietetic Advanced Clinical Practitioner

We collaborated closely with the team and feel proud that our website design will serve them and their patients well into the foreseeable future. The team have a solid platform in place which will allow the site to flex in whatever direction is needed with regard to content changes and patient needs.

It was an absolute pleasure working on this project, and we would like to thank Marianne Williams and Lesley Harper in particular for their amazing efforts in helping us get this project over the finishing line and into the hands of those who need this most, particularly in this time of national crisis.

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