Supporting donors as part of the pandemic response

Working with donors and staff to improve NHS Blood and Transplant’s new convalescent plasma service, supporting its clinical testing as a potential COVID-19 treatment.

Client
NHS Blood and Transplant
Service
Digital experience
Deliverables
Digital tools

About the project

As part of an ambition to continuously put people at the centre of their services and organisational culture, we’ve been working with NHS Blood and Transplant (NHSBT) as their service and user-centred design strategic partner. Over two years, we’ll deliver multiple strategic and tactical initiatives, while also supporting individual projects.

NHSBT runs a programme enabling people to donate convalescent plasma, which was used in a clinical trial as a COVID-19 treatment. As an integral and urgent part of their service, NHSBT wanted to improve the experience and raise awareness, encouraging as many repeat donations as possible.

Our process to execute this project

Working as a blended team with NHSBT, we ran a review of the donor’s journey to uncover pain points, identify opportunities for improvement and develop a set of recommendations for initiatives.

Research consisted of 13 in-depth interviews with donors, 10 in-depth interviews with NHSBT staff and insights from 1,300 donors through an online survey.

Staff were praised for making donations a positive experience, yet improvements could be made to the process of pre-donation for both staff and donors. Many people turned up to their appointments unable to donate for varied reasons, which caused disappointment. Donors stated there was a lot of information that would have been better in a digital format and information could have better-explained limitations and processes of the donation experience.

“I would’ve wished for just a little bit more detail. It would’ve helped to have an explanation because of the disappointment of not being able to donate.” Alan, Donor

Staff explained similar challenges around disappointment for patients unable to donate on the day due to confusing materials. There was a noticeable difficulty in non-London centres meeting capacity, with a need to streamline processes and encourage repeat donations.

“Some donors are not entirely sure why they’re here. They think they’re coming to give a blood donation, they don’t understand they’re going to be on that machine for an hour or so.” Session Sister

To encourage more repeat donations, avoid failed attempts and help improve the experience for donors by better preparing them and reducing disappointment, we focused on:

  • supporting donors to be better prepared and feel more confident
  • providing more opportunities for digital self-service
  • creating a more positive follow up experience for donors
  • improving ways of working to manage demand better

Through a co-design workshop with staff, we developed and iterated on multiple concepts within each of these opportunity areas. These ranged from a preparation checklist, online booking, a donation debrief and task and role reviews, amongst others.

In multidisciplinary teams, we reviewed each prototype concept against a set of strategic considerations. These included reviewing whether each concept had been explored before, understanding why they’ve not been pursued or implemented. We also wanted to understand if there’s potential to integrate each concept into different services and experiences across NHSBT.

Impact

Prototyping with donors

The urgency and importance of the convalescent plasma service in relation to its potential COVID-19 treatment has progressed the project into its alpha stage. We’re now testing prototypes with the biggest impact potential with donors.

Immersive donor training tool

An interactive experience for new donors to understand what they can expect from the donation process and how they need to prepare. They can click through an illustrated walkthrough to learn about the donation process.

The tool includes an interactive click-through experience on the website, uses animation and illustration to make it more accessible and videos can be embedded if necessary.

Integrated registration & eligibility check

An eligibility check that’s integrated with the online registration of interest. Donors answer a couple more questions online, but wouldn’t have to wait for a phone call to know whether they’re eligible or not.

The tool includes an updated registration form and the possibility to call for difficult answers, reducing the number of outgoing calls and collecting better data.

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