Why elearning in the NHS isn’t just for staff

shutterstock_124045702

It’s undeniable that the internet has touched nearly every part of our lives. From online shopping to social networks and even entire new industries, we now have an expectation of what we can do online. The NHS has been cautiously, but successfully, bringing its various functions online. 98.7% of GP practices now offer online appointment booking, repeat prescriptions and access to medical records and it’s a fantastic display of commitment to making the NHS accessible.

But perhaps the biggest success of the NHS’s online initiative is NHS Choices, the online database that shares free information for individuals to look up symptoms and courses of action to take. It’s accessed by over 50 million visitors each month, showing that people need and expect the ability to get medical information online. It’s especially useful as it acts as a trusted, reliable source on the notorious “Wild West” of the internet, an example of brilliantly-made curated content.

It is, in fact, a great example of how client-facing elearning can save a organisation a huge amount of money. One of the biggest causes of overwork in the NHS is unnecessary GP visits, and NHS Choices is supposed to help alleviate this problem. In fact, GPs are being urged to encourage people to diagnose online before arranging an appointment. This is where client-facing elearning comes into its own – rather than misplacing time and resources on smaller cases, patients can instead deal with their smaller concerns with the authority of a GP’s knowledge. The great thing about NHS Choices is that it doesn’t replace a GP, it merely acts as a way for people to assess their symptoms’ severity. More often than not, the knowledge that what you have isn’t anything too dangerous is all people want to know.

It isn’t all good news, however. As successful as the technical side of the NHS’s online services are, they’re just not being used as much as they could be. Only 12% of appointments are booked online, and a target of getting at least 10% of patients using the digital services has been set by Baroness Martha Lane Fox. What we have is a digital skills gap, as patients are either unwilling or unaware of their ability to use the NHS online. If we can get people using online bookings and NHS Choices systems there’ll be a knock on effect of reducing GP waiting times, overwork and an increase in accurate diagnoses and better working conditions.

What this shows is that elearning goes beyond compliance and safety, even in non-commercial sectors. By educating your users you can save money in the long run, and increase satisfaction with the service. We need to start seeing elearning not just as a necessary part of training, but also as a method of delivering information to patients.

You can learn more about elearning as a customer service here, and if you’d like to find out more about elearning in the NHS you can view our UCLH case study here.