“NHS hospital websites lack customer focus”

NHS logoThe following press release has been published by Socitm this morning:

Mini survey of hospital websites highlights lack of customer focus

A survey of the websites of nine top hospitals in England has revealed a distinct lack of customer focus likely to leave patients and visitors struggling to find key information.

The survey, carried out by Socitm, publisher of Better connected, the annual survey of all local authority websites, was carried out in advance of a roundtable discussion to be held at the NHS Web Futures ’11 conference to be held in London on 14 July. Full results of the survey and the roundtable discussion will be published following the conference.

The survey was limited to an assessment of how easy it was to complete five common tasks likely to be high on the priority of every patient, ie

  1. Cancel an outpatient appointment
  2. Prepare for a stay in hospital
  3. Find out visiting hours
  4. Find out about car parking at the hospital
  5. Find out about infection prevention and control

The survey covered nine high profile, city-based hospitals in England: Addenbrooke’s Cambridge, St Bartholomew’s London, John Radcliffe Oxford, Manchester Royal Infirmary, Queen Elizabeth Birmingham, Leeds General Infirmary, Royal Victoria Infirmary Newcastle, St Thomas’s London, and Southampton General.

According to John Fox, an experienced public sector web manager and member of the Better connected survey team, most of the sites surveyed did not appear to recognise that the primary audience for a hospital website should always be the patient and/or hospital visitor. Most sites surveyed were trying to be all things to all parties and this causes major problems. Another issue is that while patients and visitors will be looking for information about an individual hospital, NHS hospital trusts tend to present several hospitals within one web domain, which poses significant challenges for website navigation and usability.

The survey results will be presented for discussion at a roundtable led by John Fox at the NHS Web Futures ’11 event, to be held at Olympia 2 on 14 July. Further information can be found at http://www.headstar-events.com/nhsweb11/

Socitm Insight will publish further information on the survey and the roundtable discussion before the end of July.

About ‘Better connected’

An annual survey of all 433 local authority websites in England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland. Better connected has been carried out since 1999. A lengthy (136 questions for 2011) survey is carried by a team of reviewers in November and December. Around half of the questions test the information content of websites. The remainder of the questions assessed performance around the criteria used by Better connected to assess website performance, including currency, links, transactions, location, navigation, A-Z, search, and accessibility.

Further information

Vicky Sargent, Socitm Press Office
Tel: 07726 601 139  email: vicky.sargent@socitm.net

Martin Greenwood, Programme Manager, Socitm Insight
Tel: 01926 498703 or 07967 383755  e-mail: martin.greenwood@socitm.net