New guide published to improve GP website usability

NHS England’s primary care group has published a guide detailing how GP websites could be developed to become more accessible and user-friendly.

Using research data collected from 102 patients between October 2021 and April 2022, it aimed to gather information on patients with moderate to low digital confidence.

The user experience team from the group set out the aim of creating more accessible and user-friendly GP websites, highlighting that it will improve patient satisfaction and experience in using their GP practice, ensure patients are signposted to the correct areas for their needs, and remove access barriers and digital inequality for those with disabilities and existing health inequalities.

The guide itself notes the benefits of creating a more accessible website for patients, listing them to:

  • Improve patient satisfaction and experience of using a GP practice website, making it more likely they will return and use the digital tools available
  • Ensure patients are signposted to the correct areas of the website for their medical needs
  • Reduce adding digital inequalities to existing health inequalities with patients
  • Remove existing access barriers for patients with disabilities who use assistive technology to navigate websites
  • Allow patients to ‘self-serve’ their care, reducing the burden on receptionist and clinical staff

One area the guidance highlighted, mentioned how GP practices should develop websites in line with the NHS brand and feel, noting research that said 98% (of a sample of 1,000 members of the public) knew the NHS brand and that it is associated with ‘trustworthiness’. It indicated that GP websites should follow the usual “look and feel” of other NHS websites to give their patients “confidence and trust that they are in the right place”.

It also found that reducing the amount of written content could benefit adults with literacy challenges, stating research that indicates 7.1 million in the UK read at or below the average level of a nine-year-old, and more than four in ten struggle to understand health content written for the public and six in 10 struggle with information that includes numbers and statistics. As the guide recommends, “more is less”.

The guide goes on to detail steps that website administrators and developers could use to support the development of GP practice websites and ensure each GP website is in line with current legal regulations regarding inclusion and accessibility.

You can read the full guide here.