Feeding a Culture That’s Hungry for UX

With a headcount of over 1.2 million employees and counting, the NHS is comfortably the UK’s biggest employer. With such a large entity the challenges become bigger, but so too do the potential rewards for the British public.

User Experience in the NHS

There’s a culture in the NHS that’s hungry for User Experience (UX). There are UX Designers, User Researchers, advocates in the form of Product Owners and Project Managers, third party UX companies and a realisation of UX value and what it represents in terms of helping both the user and the patient.

UX as a part of the Digital Transformation of the NHS affects all areas – on the road, within hospitals, amongst emergency call-centre staff and in GP surgeries. Allowing UX into the design process for each of these areas helps to ensure front-line staff have access to relevant technology which is intuitive and easy-to-use at a time of great stress, allowing them to focus on the stuff that matters.

For example, Paramedics having tablets and hand-held devices when on the road; or call centre staff who want to view screens that enable their processes to be as efficient as possible, allowing them to understand and treat the patient as quick as possible.

A simple change from drop-down menus to buttons can help to save seconds, which when applied across the organisation can have massive effect.


True UX implementation requires buy-in at the highest level. The heart of UX is empathy for the user, their needs and their goals. For UX to thrive this type of thinking needs to be culturally embedded within the organisation and its teams, from the developers, project managers, business analysts or any other role.

Over the past five years, Answer Digital has been working with the NHS on various projects, each of which aim to transform the digital capabilities of the mammoth organisation for the better. Examples of the guidelines implemented by the NHS include:

Plain English

Plain English guidelines help the NHS to use simpler and more direct language. It’s not about ‘dumbing down’ information, but instead writing for the reader in mind, using the right tone of voice that is clear and concise. Plain English helps people make decisions and builds trust; is faster to write and quicker to read, and gets the message across more often, more easily and in a friendlier way.

Online Style

The messages NHS create impact the lives of the people who read them. For this reason, every facet of the brand needs to convey the same sentiment to ensure consistency and recognition. Healthcare has changed over the years and like other industries, healthcare is today consumer-driven. The first thing that most patients see isn’t a facility or staff, it’s online branding.

Common User Interface

Commonality across interfaces is a necessity for healthcare professionals who move between mediums rife with data tables, excess controls, and information packed screens with little or no imagery. Poor usability is not an option, as every second spent on a computer is one more second not spent with a patient. A solid common user interface assists in the efficiency of completing tasks.


User experience (UX) design, service design, design thinking and co-design are all phrases that have entered the everyday vocabulary of clinicians and managers working on innovation in healthcare delivery. It may be new terminology, but everyone agrees that ‘design’ has an important role to play in the delivery of innovative models of care.

Thinking about undertaking a UX Project like the NHS? Start with a UX Project Checklist and take a look at the guidelines you have in place. Could they be more reflective of your user?

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