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GP website improvement and benchmarking tool launched by NHS England

by Julie Griffiths
5 June 2023

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A GP website audit tool has been launched by NHS England to help surgeries improve their practice websites. 

The tool, which was launched last week, enables practices to understand how easy or hard it is for patients to use their website, and whether it meets contractual requirements laid out in the GP contract.

NHS England estimates that web audits using the improvement tool will take between 45-90 minutes, depending on the website.

There are three sections to the GP website audit tool, measuring functionality through different lenses: the patient journey; practice managers’ priorities; and legal requirements.

The first section examines the most common tasks or digital journeys that patients want when they visit a GP surgery website. Each journey is broken down into the most important criteria for useability and the audit tool identifies whether a website meets these well, adequately or inadequately.

If all criteria are met well, then these key user journeys are likely to be straightforward and easy for the patient.

The second section examines elements important to practice managers, such as patient feedback via the Friends and Family test; how patients can make a complaint; details about registering with the practice and information about vaccinations. The third section covers legal items a GP surgery website must have to be compliant.

Practices can use the tool to create a checklist of improvements needed and identify who should do these. For example, it shows which elements for improvement are usually the responsibility of the website supplier (usually the web template) and which parts are the responsibility of the practice, such as the content.

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The tool enables practices to audit a site before and after changes are made to measure their improvements.

The NHS England tool is based on user testing of 10 GP surgery websites by 102 participants who had low to moderate digital and written English confidence.

The research uncovered the top tasks that patients want to do on a GP website and identified the most challenging aspects for patients using practice sites.  It also revealed the ways that patients search for information and carry out tasks on GP websites.

NHS England has shared tips for how practices can improve their websites (see box) and suggests the best way to conduct the audit. 

Practices can also ask for a tutorial on how to use the tool by emailing the primary care transformation team at NHS England at [email protected]

The guidance comes after recent research found a third of GP websites were inadequate and follows a NHS England guide published last year to help improve patient satisfaction and reduce the burden on receptionists by allowing patients to ‘effectively self-serve’.

NHS England tips for improving a GP practice website

  • Write for someone who might struggle to read complicated medical information or hard-to-understand text.
  • Language should be simple and easy to follow since most patients don’t know how practices work.
  • Remember that some people will find it hard to use digital tools and technology.
  • Test the website you are auditing on a mobile device since that’s what most patients will be using.

The NHS has also published a set of tools to help make good digital tools like websites.


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