In 2016 the Lambeth GP Federation approached Merchant to devise and deliver a patient engagement campaign that would increase awareness and promote better use of online services such as appointment bookings, access to medical records and the ability to order repeat prescriptions online.
The Federation had successfully bid for funding for this from the Prime Minister’s Challenge Fund – a £50m project which aimed to help improve access and stimulate innovation in general practice.
The Federation provided a clear brief to Merchant - to tell patients how to book GP appointments online.
Lambeth GP Federation had commissioned research as part of its funding bid which identified patient demographics across its 47 practices, and looked at how they were currently accessing their GP. This provided a baseline for the patient engagement campaign. However, there were other challenges to overcome.
There are a number of different providers of online services to the NHS, and not all of them are seen by patients as being particularly user-friendly, which is another barrier to adoption. Although we had no control over this, we wanted to remove this barrier, build patient trust and explain how easy it is to use online services. We did this by creating a Lambeth Patient Online microsite and our campaign directed people there .
Another crucial requirement was that the GPs themselves were fully on board. We therefore had two distinct audiences and our messaging and methods had to be carefully tailored to each if the campaign was to be a success.