Southwark Council first to offer digital NHS health checks

The scheme was developed under the guidance of the Design Council’s Design in the Public Sector programme, and targets those potentially at risk.

How the service appears to users

Southwark Council has become the first local authority to utilise digital NHS health checks. The new system, which was first trialled back in January 2019, is aimed at people who have previously ignored an invitation for an appointment.

In England and Wales, health checks are offered to adults aged 40 to 65. The idea is to identify early on any chance an individual might have of developing heart disease, kidney disease, type 2 diabetes or having a stroke. In Southwark, only around half of eligible adults take up the offer of a health check.

Engaging patients with their own healthcare

Under the guidance of the Design Council’s Design in the Public Sector programme, Southwark’s new online tool was developed to re-engage people with health checks.

Those who fail to take up the invitation for a health check are notified about the new digital service instead. Anyone who chooses to access it – in a browser or via an app – is then asked a series of questions about their current health and lifestyle and is then given information and recommendations based on the result.

A spokesperson for Southwark Council says simplicity was a top priority for developers: “The key principle was that the prototype needed to be simple to navigate and present results and actions in a basic, easily understandable format.”

10% of respondents at high risk

Since its trial, over 300 people who had previously not responded to invitations have completed the digital version. Some 10% of these have been found to be high-risk and were advised by the online tool to contact their GP.

The new digital health check system is one of many projects Design in the Public Sector has facilitated recently; in Derbyshire, the programme supported the implementation of a scheme to reduce pregnant women smoking.

Head of programmes, growth and innovation at the Design Council Sarah Mann says, “The teams we work with are often trying to achieve the same outcome but struggling to find a way of working together.

“Using our unique mix of skills in public sector innovation, architecture and built environment, business support and policy and insight, [we can] bring about systemic change that works for everyone.”

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