The Challenge

The National Health Service in the UK were dealing with too many inquires at their health centres with unnecessary or prolonged enquiries and face-to-face visits.

The Solution

The NHS built a website, NHS Choices, to provide patients with the healthcare information they need, when they need it.  Visit the link and try it for yourself.

The ability to locate accurate and relevant information helps many concerned users satisfy their queries online or ensuring that they contact the most appropriate healthcare professional first time around.  All of which helps to save health centre, doctor, specialist and other experts’ time.

Fundamental to the success of NHS Choices is that people are able to look up everyday health-related information in their own normal everyday language – without knowing the medical jargon. Semaphore, from Smartlogic, provides a contextual user experience using a specific ontology linking medical terms with normal everyday language that people use to describe their illnesses, symptoms, treatments and medication.

Also central to the search experience is automatic content classification of information.  Semaphore scans each new document and recognises its key terms in their correct medical context and automatically tags with metadata for later retrieval during a search.

Benefits realised:

  • Patients are able to look up Health related information in their normal everyday language.
  • Visitors to the website can find the exact information they are looking for rather than a broad list of irrelevant results
  • It has been reported that the NHS has saved millions of pounds in costs, as unnecessary or prolonged enquiries and face-to-face visits have been dramatically cut. The NHS Choices 2010 Annual Report showed that the website received more than 100 million visits over a 12-month period, while a separate study from Imperial College London found that a third of those logging onto decided against seeing a healthcare professional afterwards – saving the NHS an estimated £44 million a year.