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Building user confidence in third-party solutions in the NHS: the branding challenge

Child with fever and mother in video consultation with healthcare | Visiba Care

The challenge

The COVID-19 pandemic has pushed the NHS to adopt digital solutions further and faster than it was ever expecting. Since March 2020, there have been over 247 million GP appointments in England [1]. In February 2020, just 14.5% of GP appointments were delivered remotely (either via telephone or via video/online); in March 2020 this jumped to 28.2%, and from April onward this number has hovered between 38% and 48% [2].

We have fundamentally shifted the way that patients interact with the NHS and that providers meet with their patients. This has been enabled through the adoption of varying digital solutions and ultimately should increase access to healthcare that matches people’s needs. But as these digital solutions are provided by third-party suppliers, there is a risk that they undermine deep-rooted patient trust in the NHS.

Research has shown that the NHS brand is one of the most trusted in the world; even before COVID-19 struck, it was seen as the UK’s most relevant brand [3], and the outpouring of support for the health service during the last 12 months has cemented this.

What is also evident is that the public are sometimes alarmed by seeing other branding on NHS services. Research for NHS England [4] found that the public and patients were “confused and unsettled” by non-standard NHS branding and were “particularly sceptical about commercial third-party suppliers employing the logo alongside their own brands”.

The solution

It is clear that digital services which are completely NHS-branded are more trusted by service users. Toward the end of last year, we surveyed over 1000 Britons about their attitudes and behaviours toward online consultations. Respondents highlighted many perceived benefits of online consultations, including reduced risk of COVID-19 infection, reduced need for travel, increased flexibility, reduced wait times, and improved access to healthcare [5].

Notably, 63% of respondents said they felt more comfortable with online consultations provided directly through their regular healthcare provider. [6]

From talking to patients, it has always been clear that they are interested in the clinical service provider, not the technology provider, and we need to avoid putting any obstacles in the way of building that relationship online. Branding can be one such obstacle, which is why we have always made it simple for our clients to make our services appear completely part of their organisation. When using our solutions, all users see is the branding of the NHS organisation they are engaging with.

We have seen a really good take-up of our digital services and based on feedback from service users, we know this is really helped by the fact that it looks and feels like a Livewell service, with no other branding coming between us and them.

Michael Oliver, Programme Manager at Livewell Southwest, which uses Visiba to power its Livewell Connect app

As digital services become embedded in the NHS, with the myriad benefits they bring, it is all the more important that commissioners of these services ensure their branding is familiar, reassuring, and builds trust – not barriers. Visiba Care’s approach to branding enables this, leveraging the extraordinary levels of trust in the NHS brand.

Sofia Pyrgioti

Sofia Pyrgioti

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