2016 | nhs - 111 online |

Scaling the UKs Urgent Care digital service

Running alongside the the urgent care phone service, 111-online, is an Q&A tool that directs users to the most appropriate health service based on condition severity and urgency.

By posing a series of questions, driven to an underlying decision tree, users quickly move from their initial complaint to given details regarding the most appropriate urgent care services in their area.

This national service ran in parallel to the 111 phone service, and connected 45 million people across the UK to health care services in their local region. I was initially involved in leading the design and research of the initial pilot areas, helping the team get good data from users, to understand the challenges in using a online tool during often stressful and urgent health situations.


Our success metric was in ‘channel shift’ - moving users away from the phone service by adopting the online triage tool for their urgent care needs. By January 2019, 111 was seeing over 250,000 contacts per month.

How can we make an urgent care service easy?

In period of high stress users don't need nor have time to learn a new tool. Our design goal was to build, virtually instantly, a users capacity to use the a service with zero training. Through the sequential layering of simple interactions, primarily, through the adoption of standardised NHS design patterns, we helped users overcome hesitation in using this service and helping push demand away from the phone service. In short, each step was easy and our metric showed a reduction in drop-offs and abandoned journeys.

How can help users feel that they are getting the best care?

At all points in the service, it was imperative that users understood and were reassured they were getting the best care. Excellent and well considered content design helped the the service be perceived as the equivalent to the phone service, or their local emergency department. Furthermore, dispositions also included not only physical services, but also call-backs from various clinicians.

National scaling

Initial trials were conducted in 3 CCG’s (Commissioning areas within the UK). With the successfull implemetnation wihtin these smaller regions, the service was adopted nationally over the next year.