Published by Emma Finn, Head of Digital
October 2nd marked a bittersweet day for me. It marked the end of my maternity leave at home with my two beautiful girls but also marked the day I returned to ‘my other baby’; the digital communications team in the HSE. Over the last six weeks since my return, I have spent some time reflecting on the last two and a half years since the ‘birth’ of the Digital Communications team and how far we have come since then.
The drive to develop our team started long before it was actually established. It was born from a real user need to engage with our service users, staff and the public via digital channels.
Navigating the health service is complicated and we know that when our people need our services they are very often vulnerable and need help for themselves or a loved one.
The digital world has transformed how people interact with organisations and the digital landscape is ever-changing. People’s expectations about how organisations provide services and information are constantly growing as new technologies and platforms emerge.
The HSE Communications team commissioned research in 2015 which was carried out by B&A. This research showed that over 55% of people find it difficult to understand how the health service works and 59% of people did not know how their local health services were organised. The research also showed that after their GP 46% of respondents used the internet to access health information.
How people were interacting with the HSE online was changing also. In 2015 there were over 11 million visits to our website hse.ie with over half of those visits coming from a mobile or tablet device. We received over 100,000 calls or emails to our National Information Line service in 2015 from members of the public looking for information on our schemes and services.
With this research and data as the backdrop, it was clear that there was a real user need to invest in digital communications to help guide people through their health journey. And so the Digital Communications team was born on May 18th, 2015 consisting of 4 digital professionals and our call centre team now known as HSELive.
The last two and a half years have been busy, to say the least. I felt then as I do now that this was, and is, a unique moment in my career and the career of my team. We have been given huge support from our leadership team down to transform how the public interacts with the organisation online. In that time our overall mission has been to improve the user experience online for our staff, our patients and the public. We wholeheartedly believe in putting the user at the centre of everything we do. If it doesn’t meet a real user need it doesn’t get done!
During that time we have developed and launched a mobile responsive site, transformed our former National Information Line team to a multiplatform information hub called HSELive providing information across phone, email, live chat and twitter. We have developed social media tools, protocols and campaigns to reach more people where they are with health information. Social media is a part of all our public health campaigns and we are seeing some really impressive results. We have begun the mammoth task of improving the content on our website hse.ie, which currently consists of over 30,000 pages. We have developed and launched numerous new sites like understandtogether.ie and askaboutalcohol.ie.
All of this would not be possible without the amazing team we have built. It saddens me when I see or hear stories complaining about the health service and its people. Since joining the HSE I have been honoured to work with so many talented and driven people that come to work every day to build a better health service. Our team now works across the areas of user experience, content, social media, digital marketing and our call centre team. I couldn’t be prouder of the team of people I work with and the work they do every day.
We'll be sharing our progress here on this blog so keep an eye out for more updates from our team and significant changes to how we provide information online in 2018.
Head of Digital