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Do animations work in digital health?

Updated: Aug 23, 2023

In the summer of 2022 we partnered with Pink Jewel to explore the efficacy of a spoken-word translated animation could drive uptake of the NHS App. The app was co-created by Romanian, Somali and Bangladeshi communities in Tower Hamlets in 2021.

‘The Spoken Word’ Pilot project was designed to test the efficacy of promoting NHS digital health products and services in languages other than English, to underrepresented, ethnically diverse communities, notwithstanding that the products or services themselves are in English.

Here's a snippet of what we found:

Whilst all participants had a smartphone, they were not confident in using all the phones functionality. This finding is language specific and requires careful consideration for future product and service design. For example, the Romanian speakers reported higher digital literacy than the Bangladeshi and Somali participants. The Romanian speakers reported regularly accessing covid-passports and using email, mobile banking and health apps such as trackers. By comparison, only 2 of the Somali and Bangladeshi speakers regularly use email or access mobile banking. Only 1 person was using their GP app to order repeat prescriptions.

This finding indicates that using smartphone ownership as a proxy for digital literacy is unfounded. Having a smartphone does not equate to digital capability or confidence. So although all the participants in the Bangladeshi and Somali focus groups welcomed the animations and said they would want to use the app, they also told us they didn’t have the confidence to do it on their own. The animation highlighted that the Login process is complicated for those lacking confidence.

The participants asked us to share the English version of the animation so they could show their children and they could download the app on their behalf and complete the Login process. Others who do have children to rely on, asked us to return and run a download session. We are planning this in the autumn because the need is so great and there is limited support available.

Our recommendation

Share the animations with organisations across the UK who support grassroots communities. These grassroots organisations are reaching underrepresented communities facing exclusion and the animation could spark a turning point. By getting people registered on the app, we are taking people with us before the full digitisation of the NHS excludes people accessing their records. User research with these communities to improve the user journey is paramount to ensure a journey that is as frictionless as possible.

NHSE needs to ensure that Digital Champions across England are diverse and have the community languages and cultural know-how of the communities most at risk of exclusion. Doing so will insulate the community it serves and will help to tackle long standing health inequalities. Failure to reach into these communities means undermining national priorities in addressing health inequity. Perpetuating inequity, widening the gap and leaving the most vulnerable behind.

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