Using your Website when Consulting with the Public


From January through to March, healthcare organisations are busy developing their business plans for the year ahead, which The Department of Health issues guidelines to help with.


Healthcare organisations use this as an opportunity to review their current services and look at how they can improve these as well as considering the development of new services.


This is always a very busy time of year and as well as consulting with internal teams and other clinical stakeholders healthcare organisations need to consult with the public, patients and carers.  Running a large number of public consultations can be very time consuming and, depending on the geographical area that you cover, very expensive as well.


The NHS Constitution states that everyone has a right to give their views about the NHS.  More healthcare organisations are proactive at encouraging the public, patients and carers to give their views so that the service can be shaped around the needs of the local population.


Your website can really help you to not only save time and money but more importantly to consult with a wider audience.  An online consultation running alongside public consultation events can be very useful as well.


So how can you use your website effectively when you are going though a consultation process.  Here are a few tips which will help you plan how to get the most from an online public consultation.


1. Be clear about who you are targeting

Before you decide to run an online consultation process think about who you are trying to target.  Are they frequent users of the internet?  Do they have good IT skills? Do they have a good understanding of the English language?  Do they have any type of disability which would make it difficult for them to engage online?

For example if you want to consult with older people about a new service you need to consider whether this target audience are regular users of the internet.  You may find that they would prefer to attend a consultation event.  However their carers may be easier to engage with online.

If you are developing a service for an ethnic minority group you can have the consultation online in the language that will allow them to understand the information fully.


2. What do you want to ask them?

Think about questions that you want to ask them and remember the most important thing is to keep the questions simple and to the point.  It is better to ask a few key questions that they will easily be able to answer.  The online form can be designed so that the user can go through questions quickly and easily.  


3. How will you reach out to your audience 

Once you have your consultation questions on the website you need to make sure that your target audience know about it.  There are a number of ways to do this.  Using social media such as Twitter and Facebook to send out regular posts informing people about the consultation can be very effective, especially if you add a link to the webpage.  If you are covering a large geographical area then social media is a very cost effective way of getting the message out there.  If you are consulting in a specific locality you can get some press releases in the local papers to raise awareness of the consultation.  Leaflets and posters onsite will also be very useful if you are the provider of a healthcare service.


We hope this blog has helped you to think about how you would plan an online public consultation, if you would like any advice please do get in touch with us by email or ring 0115 914 5839.

Tagged in: Healthcare