2019 Digital Roadmap update

Ben Cloney - Head of Digital

Photograph of a wall covered in Post-It notes

It’s just over a year since we published our first Digital Roadmap update so it’s time for us to update you again. 

In this post, you can read about our content design and website migration projects over the past 12 months. We’ve also got updates from across the Digital team.

Content design and website migrations

We’re on a mission to bring over 85 separate websites and microsites together into 2 new websites. One is for the public and the second one is for professional audiences including staff. This means we will gradually shut down all old stand-alone websites and microsites. 

These projects are not just a ‘copy and paste’ type of job. They involve a huge amount of planning, work and collaboration with colleagues across the health service. All to better meet user needs and provide a more unified and effective online experience.

The new

Over the past 12 months, we’ve integrated 14 stand-alone websites with the new These sites include:

We have also migrated these parts of the old to the new website for the public:

Up next:

  • Health Care-Associated Infections (HCAI)
  • Diabetic
  • Diabetes (symptoms, diagnosis and self-management)

A graphic showing the homepage of the old on the left with the new homepage on the right.

Above: Left - the old HSE website created for all content and all audiences - the general public, health service staff and other professional stakeholders with corporate updates and documents; Right - the new HSE website, dedicated to the online needs of the general public. Both are still in use until we fully migrate over to the new website.

New content areas on

Some work over the past year involved branching out into new content areas.

This includes:

Our new site for professional audiences including staff is So far we’ve worked on 2 pilot projects for this site. We’ve learned a lot from these projects which we can carry forward into the future migrations.

We now need to define the overall information architecture for This will inform the structure of the site but also how we plan for this project, and the people and workflows needed to deliver it. 

We’re also working on ways to improve how we support people outside of the Digital team who will be responsible for producing and maintaining content on

Updates from across the Digital team

User experience (UX) and digital development

As well as working on all of the website migrations this past year, we’ve been working on the design of our sites, user testing and improving the search experience.

Consistent design

New sites like, and are now integrated with the new which means they all have the same look and feel. This consistency means users will become familiar with our website, rather than having to learn how to use multiple new sites. This is one of the key goals of the Digital Roadmap.

We’re testing and iterating on these website templates so they’re likely to change over time but we know we’re moving in the right direction.

User testing 

We use a process called Task Performance Indicator (TPI) to measure how our website is working for people who need to complete certain tasks. We’ve conducted usability testing on, hospital services search and the new

Our goal is to make it as quick and easy as possible for people to get the information they need. We’re using the insights from TPI testing to make improvements.

Better search experience 

For most people, search - either through Google or internally searching on our website - is their first step when trying to find information.

Google likes well structured easy to understand information, just like the people who use our website. Redesigning the mental health information on the site has resulted in a 100% increase in visitors from Google so we know we’re doing well there.

However, our TPI testing clearly highlighted how frustrated users are with the internal search tool on our site. Our site is not always delivering high-quality content or precise internal search results. This is largely caused by old, irrelevant or poorly created content littering the search results page.

Our work to  improve the search experience on our website includes:

  • removing old content from being checked by the search engine
  • improving the titles of PDFs
  • optimising page titles and descriptions

We’re already seeing improvements with a decrease in visitors leaving the site after performing a search.

Up next:

  • Redesigning and developing our job search functionality.
  • Developing a design system and design patterns to use across all HSE sites.
  • Improving the information architecture (IA) for the new and
  • Developing new publishing tools that will support our services to share news and blogs about their services.

Social media

Our audience across all HSE social media channels is now over 650,000 and growing every day. 

The HSE LinkedIn homepage has 73,000 followers and has had 1.8 million visits to the page over the last 12 months. We have also grown our Twitter audience on @HSELive to 40,000 followers. 

Here are a few highlights from our work on social this past year.

HPV vaccine

The uptake of the HPV vaccine is at approximately 70%, which is an increase of 20% points since 2017.

We want to see the uptake grow even higher so we ran another HPV vaccine campaign in March 2019 resulting in:

  • 145,687 video views
  • over 6,000 comments 
  • over 1,800 shares 

We also recently launched the next phase of the campaign which will see the vaccine given to both girls and boys.

Watch our new HPV campaign video:

Trialling QUIT closed social media groups

The way people use social media has changed over the past few years. One shift is that closed groups are becoming more popular. To adapt our social strategy to reflect this change, we decided to run a pilot project using a closed social media group to help people quit smoking.

We ran 3 pilots over 12 weeks and based on all the evaluation measures, the trial was a success. Our quit rate was higher than other trials of similar closed Facebooks groups. Over half of the participants felt like they were part of a community and had someone in the group to “turn to for advice”. 

The HSE on Instagram

Since our last update, we have launched the HSE Ireland Instagram account. We also have active Instagram accounts for Sexual Wellbeing and MyChild. They are all growing steadily.

Up next:

Social media strategy

We will publish the next iteration of our social media strategy. This will focus on building trust and confidence in our online community. You can see our previous social media strategy here.

Closed social media groups for breastfeeding and diabetes support

We are now looking at how we can support other groups of people using the same approach as the Quit smoking closed groups. Sláintecare is supporting this work through the Integration Fund. We are designing a model that can be used by other services to safely support people that use our services online combining peer-to-peer with expert support and advice from healthcare professionals. 

We will launch a closed group for breastfeeding mothers. This will have peer to peer support and an ‘ask the expert’ service. The group will consist of lactation consultants and mothers who are breastfeeding.  

We will also launch a closed group for people with Type 2 Diabetes.  It will support patients throughout their engagement with the structured patient education programme. 

Winter campaign

Our annual winter campaign launched again in October.  This campaign focuses on the flu vaccine, how to manage common conditions, injury units and the Resist campaign on healthcare-associated infections.


The HSELive team work to guide people through the health service. We do this by answering phone, webchat, social media and email queries. Every week we respond to an average of 2,900 contacts. This includes 1,300 web chats. In  2020 we hope to open up the service even more by introducing new channels. 

Between August 2018 – August 2019 we received 183,451 queries from the public. This is an increase of over 80,000 from last year. This increase is due to more people wanting to get information online. 

These queries consisted of:

  • 80,955 phone calls
  • 60,878 web chats
  • 41,618 emails

Top 4 queries made to HSELive:

  1. European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) - for example: “how do I apply for EHIC”, “I’ve lost my card. How can I replace it?”
  2. Medical cards - “Am I eligible for a medical card?”, “How do I appeal a decision?”, “Has my application been reviewed yet?”
  3. Births, deaths and marriages - “How can I register for a certificate?”,  “How can I register a birth?”, “How can I make a marriage appointment?”
  4. Hospital queries - “How long are the waiting lists?”, “What are the hospital charges?”, “I’ve been discharged from hospital and I’m having aftercare issues. What should I do?"

Through this direct contact with the public, we gain valuable feedback. This helps us understand people’s needs and improve our online experiences. These insights inform many of our digital roadmap projects.

Digital delivery

We have been working to improve how we work as a team and how we plan and deliver digital projects. We’ve introduced daily stand-ups and are getting better at estimating how long our work takes. We’re also improving how we plan projects, working more collaboratively across the team on projects and how we work with internal clients. 


Aside from working on content design projects to support our migrations from old to new sites, here are a few focus areas of the content team over the past year:

Content governance

Content governance is crucial to ensure the information on our site is always kept up-to-date. Our first priority has been to create a content governance charter for our online health guides. It’s especially important that this content is accurate so people can be certain they are getting good advice about their health.

We’ve also established an online health guides governance board to support the review process for online health guides. This board will ensure we can source subject matter experts when we need them. We’ll be working to establish a number of other sub-groups with responsibility for specific areas of content.

Testing content

Aside from testing the website itself, we’ve also been trying out some new methods to test our content. We want to make sure it’s easy to understand and meets user needs and to know how it can be improved. For some particularly complicated pieces of content, we have tested how well users understand it. We sometimes use a highlighter exercise like this one recommended by GOV.UK

Content guide updates

We meet once a month to discuss style issues and potential changes to the content guide. This helps to make sure our content guide is working for us and being applied consistently. We also make additions and edits to our guide.

Content crits - reviewing content as a team

Our team now meets regularly for content crits where we critique each others’ work. Having feedback from across the team helps to highlight issues and also helps us all to embed our learning and improve how we practice content design and apply the content guide.

Up next:

  • The next iteration of our content strategy.
  • Creating a guide for producing news articles and blogs.
  • Structured content research and pilot project.

Thanks for reading our 2019 Digital Roadmap update. Email us if you’d like to get in touch to learn more about our work.