Over the past year or so we have been reviewing the digital systems that we provide to local Healthwatch and the digital systems that we use at Healthwatch England.
Around this time last year, many of you may have been involved in the extensive research carried out by an external digital agency ‘Wildman and Herring’ that we engaged to ensure that we gained as deep an understanding of your requirements as possible.
Following that six-month research period, we had to pause our digital project as we all responded to the arrival of the COVID-19 pandemic. But since the summer we have been assessing what you told us last year and we are now beginning the process of acting upon the insights you provided.
What you told us
You told us that you wanted help when it came to:
- Collecting views online and deepening this engagement with your communities
- Understanding and sharing the insight you collect.
Our review also told us that some of the systems we currently use to collect, manage and share data and insight across the Healthwatch network do not deliver the functionality we require. Nor are they giving us sufficient return on the finance and resources Healthwatch England commits to them.
Plans for 2021
Piloting new engagement systems (February – July 2021)
Before Christmas, you will have seen our first steps in tackling this issue by calling for ten local Healthwatch to trial and test two engagement platforms (five Healthwatch for each platform).
At a time when you cannot engage people face-to-face, we have prioritised looking at what online engagement systems are on offer that might meet your key needs. As a result, we've selected two platforms ‘Engagement HQ’ and ‘CitizenLab’ to test.
Both systems offer a range of tools to help you engage people, have an ongoing dialogue and analyse the results. We know how important it is that local Healthwatch are thoroughly involved in testing as it’s you that will be using whatever digital tools we eventually decide to go with. The pilots will run from February to July of this year as we test their functionality against our existing tools to inform future investment decisions.
Building a new central data store (March 2021 – September 2021)
Another key strand of our digital work will be developing a way for us to better collect and store Healthwatch insight and to make it easier to access and analyse the valuable evidence on health and social care you collect. The ‘Central Data Store’ aims to:
- Provide better ways for us as a network to collect feedback – for example, by providing a feedback module for our websites that pulls insight directly into a central place.
- Allow local Healthwatch to provide and analyse real-time information on local issues.
- Provide tools to help you compare local data against a larger dataset, for example, how does your data compare with regional and national data. This will help you spot trends and understand the impact that we are making as individual organisations and as a network.
Work on developing this platform is beginning now and will continue through the spring and into the summer.
Website upgrade (April 2021 – March 2022)
Additionally, in the next financial year, we will continue to develop our national website, the 60+ local Healthwatch websites we support and the network site. A crucial part of this work is upgrading the Drupal content management and website platform we use from Drupal 7 to the latest version.
Our promise to you
In all our work digital development work, we keep the pressure faced by local Healthwatch at front of mind. We are acutely aware of the strains placed on your resources. Our prime motivation is to ensure that Healthwatch’s digital offer helps with efficiency and makes life easier for you and your communities.