Case study: Finding the right name for a new NHS App feature


Discover how we used carefully-selected design research methods to help NHSX find the best name for a new feature on the NHS App.

NHSX’s mission is to drive the digital transformation of the NHS and social care. It is now integrated with the Transformation Directorate at NHS England and is a joint unit of NHS England and the Department of Health and Social Care.

NHSX are developing a potential new feature for the NHS App. This would allow patients arriving at clinical care settings (e.g. A&E or GP surgeries) to generate a QR code on their phone. Reception staff would scan the code and automatically transfer the patients' demographic information and NHS number to the clinical system, enabling digital records to be easily located or created.

This feature would offer a quicker, more accurate and more confidential method of checking in compared to saying personal information out loud in a busy reception area. It would also help patients who find verbal communication difficult.

Why was design research needed?

NHSX faced the difficult challenge of finding a suitable name for the feature - essentially the words that would appear on the green button in the NHS App that patients could click to generate their unique QR code. They needed a name that was memorable and meaningful to patients and staff alike and also build confidence in the security this method offers when transferring personal information. The name also needed sit well within the overall NHS App without being confused with any other features.

To find a name that met the needs of both patients and staff, NHSX needed in-depth user research to generate, systematically refine and test relevant names. This research needed to be with those directly involved with giving and gathering patient information in NHS settings. 

What design research methods were selected and why?

We designed a research project made up of 3 distinct work packages, each one building on the one before. The aim was to work with patients and staff to generate a name that was based on the language they use to describe the process of giving and managing patient information in a care setting. Using this approach would ensure that any name generated was meaningful and based in users' own understanding of the process.

       Exploratory interviews - online

We interviewed patients and NHS reception/admin staff to gather detail and depth on the words and phrases they associate with the process of giving and gathering patient information.

Our research team spent 1 hour with 5 patients and 6 staff, via remote video call, asking a series of questions designed to:

    • encourage the participants to describe relevant experiences
    • gain their initial impressions of the feature 
    • explore the language used in the process of checking in to an NHS setting.

Transcripts of these interviews were analysed to identify key words and phrases that participants used to describe their experiences and impressions. These words and phrases were then further tested and refined to build a name both patients and staff related to and understand. 

Co-design sessions - online

We ran co-design sessions with mixed groups of patients and staff to collaboratively review and revise the range of words and phrases generated in the first work package.

Our team hosted two 1-hour sessions with groups of around 5 patients and staff via remote video call, guiding them through scenarios, prototype demos and rating exercises. The groups critically interrogated the words and phrases and expressed their understanding of them. 

The outcome of this work package was a shortlist of potential names for the feature.

I feel like we got some really great insight - NHSX team

Prototype user testing - online

Finally, we ran focused testing with individual patients and staff to gain their thoughts and opinions on the shortlist of names displayed on a mock up prototype of the feature.

Our team conducted 9 sessions via remote video call to understand users' expectations of what would happen if they clicked the button and their preferences for which name works best.

Insights from this research around the type of words to avoid and the reasons behind those... and what resonates with people will be really useful for the wider app team - NHSX team

What was the outcome?

The research provided the NHSX team with:

  • a recommended name for the new feature: ‘Show My Patient ID’. 
  • supporting information detailing the reasoning behind the recommendation
  • insights to support a publicity campaign around the new feature
  • areas for related staff training
  • evidence to support the wider development of the app

It's been great working with you, thanks to you all for your hard work, very much appreciated - NHSX team

If you need high-quality design research for your project, get in touch to arrange a free call.