Everyone wants to know what commissioning consortia will look like. Online we have to hope that these new organisations will have a more focused and defined role than PCT websites did. The local NHS was well neigh impossible to find with a Google search and for the public there was very little on offer once they found a PCT site.
So, what considerations should GP consortia bear in mind for their new websites?
1. Establish the purpose of your new website
The NHS has thousands of websites already so you really do need to reassure yourself that the public will seek you out. And beyond opening times and a list of services, what do you really have to offer people? Professional audiences will need a different approach to the public, perhaps separate sections with a different tone of voice and useful tools.
2. Don’t do it all yourself – use the best of NHS content and features
NHS Choices has a team who will help you syndicate local service postcode search tools, conditions and treatments information and videos. You can plug this into your new site and whenever NHS Choices update the content your site is updated automatically too. In fact, you can build your entire site from NHS Choices components.
3. Keep the navigation and structure simple and standard
We have been helping Foundation Trusts and PCTs define the top tier of their navigation for years. Increasingly this is becoming standardised, which makes it easier for the public to orientate themselves and more efficient for the NHS.
4. Co-ordinate with local authorities
Whatever health promotion activities your local authority is planning, make sure you know what they are and how best to represent them on your site. Linking to campaign sites and the local authority site is likely to be the minimum requirement – you may want some content on your site too.
5. Get a simple content management system
The key here is to make sure you have a simple, easy-to-use CMS that has the basic functionality in place, like the ability to create service A to Z listings and to take NHS Choices feeds. Open source software can often be a good value and reliable choice. Sharepoint is probably not the answer for smaller sites (sledgehammers and nuts). The point is, you need a system that makes publishing a doddle for non-technical teams so they can keep the website up to date.
6. Go easy on social media
This might have some legs but it’s worth getting the fundamentals right first. Social media activity around local campaigns may have the most potential.