Start with the forms

I’ve recently finished a couple of discoveries. Based down in London and within the NHS.

One of the things I was looking into is the pain points between primary and secondary care. That is, between GPs (doctors) and services that GPs refer you to like hospital clinics.

One part of the project was to collect, map and assess the size and shape of the problems. Which if you’re interested in I’m happy to chat through. And point to the strategic and tactical approaches to making this better.

Layers and layers of people running and running through sticky notes and forms - By Andrew Duckworth
“You’ll have the credit to be able to work on other things that no doubt need to change too.”

We mapped many painpoints, projects and attempts to resolve issues. But a real incubator for continued innovation and improvement was forms.

That is. Starting with the forms. And using that as the first step in collaboration. In making daily issues better. And building trust between different teams or people not used to working together.

Be it making them easier to find, enter the right details or using them to route a person to the right care. Improving forms was a first step in challenging how things work. And how to work better in challenging times.

Looking through some choice quotes when pulling together some research I came across this one:

“Pathway design has been positively impacted through collaboration around form design”

I’ve found this myself. Countless times I’ve come in to help design a form flow but what’s been needed. And happened. Is real transformation. But transformation that starts with a few clearer questions. Or smarter use of data.

If I was to tell anyone where to start. Particularly in a complex system like the NHS, it would be to start with the forms.

Make it easier to pass across data. To ask for help. To give help. To get the information people need.

They’re a great place to kickstart real conscious design of service. With the added benefit of showing rapid improvements. And all the blockers you might encounter making things better. Be they cultural, organisational or technological.

Hosting a workshop between doctors in the community and in hospitals we started with a form process. And ended by removing blockers that had taken a year to sort. Just by getting in room together to make a form better.

If you start with a form you’ll have evidence of making people’s lives easier. Data more complete or accurate. And processes more efficient that you’ll have the credit to be able to work on other things that no doubt need to change too.

Start with a form. Start with something tangible and well used. Good form design improves so much. And start your transformation there. And win the space to design whole services and transform the system.

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