Delivering Key Information Quickly in a Crisis

The Challenge

NHS 24 is the public health body responsible for delivering information and advice as the first point of contact for primary health care.

During the Coronavirus pandemic in 2020, their 111 call centres came under immense pressure as they faced an unprecedented number of calls from people looking to find out what they should do if they showed symptoms.

We were approached by the Scottish Government to help NHS 24 quickly deliver a solution that could disseminate up-to-date information and take the stress off of NHS 24’s services, while providing the foundations for a future general purpose alert system in the post-Covid-19 era.

The speed of turnaround and their flexibility has been wonderful. We have pushed that ask a little bit at times but they have always managed the project really well, talking us through how we're going to address it – it's been really good to work with them.

Louise BennieHead of Digital, NHS 24

The Solution

Already in the midst of a public health crisis, we had no time to waste. But it was still important to balance the needs for fast results with the knowledge that the app would be able to outlast its current need and provide solid foundations for any future requirements.

We worked in close collaboration with the NHS 24 team to leverage existing data and identify the key information that was accessed most often by the public.

This allowed us to create an area in the app purely for symptom checking, which enabled the user in two taps to get up to the minute advice about next actions, depending on certain symptoms – ranging from getting tested, to self isolation and seeking further medical assistance.

In a world dominated by misinformation, NHS 24 needed a reliable communication channel in which they could curate accurate information and alert users to changes in official advice during a rapidly evolving environment, ensuring the public was always kept up-to-date.

Going Above and Beyond

NHS 24 came to us at the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic and we knew immediately that this would be one of the most important pieces of work we did in 2020. Our engineers, product owners, designers and everyone else in the xDesign team pulled together to support this project.

Our staff volunteered and worked over the course of a long weekend; quickly and effectively to ensure that the NHS 24 app was available to the public within two weeks from the initial brief.

The Results

The App helped NHS 24 to transform the fight against Covid-19. Downloaded hundreds of thousands of times, it puts vital information, accurate information into the hands of the UK public, allowing them to check their symptoms and receive up to the minute information, alerts and advice.

The app has 4.8 rating on the App Store and we have continued to support the NHS in future releases and updates to establish the app as the most reliable primary source of health information in the fight against the pandemic.


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