Case Study: How Agile Transformed Access To STI Testing In London

Jul 06, 2015

A community interest company (CIC) has successfully used agile methodology to transform access to sexual health testing in South London.

SH:24 was started with the ambition of transforming sexual health within South London and beyond by making it easier for people to get tested for infections.

The organisation is funded by the Guy’s and St Thomas’ Charity and has also partnered with NHS trusts and London boroughs.

Partners include King’s College Hospital NHS Foundation Trust, Guy’s and St Thomas’ NHS Foundation Trust, Lambeth Council and Southwark Council.


The Business Problem

One service SH:24 needed to offer to improve access to sexual health facilities was an online testing service. The CIC needed to deploy this service quickly and effectively.

24N caught up with SH:24 director Chris Howroyd to learn more about the project. He explained to us that traditionally, change in the healthcare sector does not happen rapidly.

Furthermore the organisation was handling very sensitive and personal information and so NHS information governance rules had to be adhered to.


Solving The Problem

In order to quickly deploy an effective service that met both the needs of users and healthcare information security guidelines, SH:24 teamed up with Unboxed Consulting, a firm which designs and builds digital products in Ruby on Rails using Lean and Agile techniques.

Unboxed Consulting worked with the CIC to build a working alpha version which was delivered within 8 weeks to the approval of a complex stakeholder group.

The aim of the alpha is to establish a sustainable model for ongoing design and development of this and other related services.

From day one of the project, Unboxed Consulting worked with SH:24 to gather research, host a day-long workshop and set up open chat rooms to ensure that the final product was one which the users actually wanted to use and would use.

Early research indicated that there is real demand for an online STI testing service and so paper prototypes and interviews were used to quickly hone a real alpha.

Click image to enlarge. 

The Results

Since the online testing service has gone live, SH:24 has seen a number of successes:

  • The website has received 5200 visitors (70% new) and 26,000 page views
  • Most people access the site by directly inputting the URL
  • 20% of visitors come through organic search
  • 1300 have ordered a test through SH:24
  • 60% of people have returned their test which is much higher than other online testing services
  • 95% of people starting the order process go right through to complete the order

According to Howroyd, the success of the project has been due to the careful and extensive prototyping of the order form with users during the alpha and beta development.

SH:24 is encouraged by the take-up so far which has been achieved with low-level promotion in Lambeth and Southwark, which was expected for the soft launch.

The programme has been successful in migrating people away from the clinic to give clinicians more time to deal with urgent cases.


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