Helping NHS clinicians and secondary care patients choose how to run consultations

Remote consultations have played an important role during the covid pandemic and will continue to be key in supporting the NHS recovery and into the future.

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Deciding how to consult with secondary care patients is a critical part of clinical practice, so NHS England and NHS Improvement (NHSE/I) were keen to help clinicians in hospitals and other healthcare settings provide the best support for their patients in a way that works well for everyone.

What we did

To help NHSE/I achieve their goals, we collaborated with colleagues at the University of Oxford to co-design new guidance that’s designed to be easy to use and to support a wide range of conditions and situations.

The guidance is divided into five key sections including the reason for the appointment, the patient’s choice and skills, their environment, the impact of technology on the relationship between clinician and patient and the clinician’s work set up.

Access full resource at NHS England

We also developed fifteen scenarios based on different patients and their clinical needs and situations.

Finally, we created a condensed guide that looked at the three modes of consulting (in person, by video and by phone) so that clinicians had a guide that they could consult more quickly.

How we did it

To support this work we developed a ‘call to action’ to invite patients and clinicians to a series of workshops. We developed a comprehensive set of workshop activities in order to understand the opportunities and challenges associated with different ways of consulting and worked with the teams as University of Oxford and NHSE/I to clarify the research.

“The workshop went brilliantly! Some really interesting thoughts and ideas and I’m amazed all 25 clinicians arrived so promptly and engaged so positively. Seamless facilitating and timekeeping Dan and Anne!”

Lauren Brown, NHS England

We then developed different ways of visualising the guidance and used a second clinician workshop to check and improve the content and the design.

Following on from these workshops, we developed a range of potential outputs including interactive PDFs and web driven interfaces and checked which format would be most suitable for ongoing dissemination and guidance.

We worked with our illustrator and University of Oxford to bring the guidance to life and to ensure that we met NHS England’s ambition for inclusive, accessible and engaging communications.

This guidance has been co-designed with clinicians and patients and is informed by a review of existing guidance and research evidence. It is available to anyone considering using remote communications as part of an NHS consultation, and designed to be relevant to any technology or clinical setting.

The guidance has been developed as a collaboration between NHS England and NHS Improvement, the University of Oxford (led by Sara Shaw, Trish Greenhalgh and Joseph Wherton) and Design Science.

Please feel free to reproduce any of the resource. You can also make small adaptations, e.g. add your organisation logo. All we ask is that you don’t change visuals or wording, and that you keep credits on any of the resources you use.
Get in touch if you need more advice or support.

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