It’s a huge problem area for us to understand and we want to share what we’ve been up to so far.

We have Clearleft at our disposal, whether via meetings, playbacks, our ‘open surgeries’ or over granola and coffee in the morning, however, we have the autonomy to shape our project to some degree.

Discovery playback
Discovery playback session with our Clearleft stakeholders

Our fantastic project manager Alison keeps us moving forward at the pace we need to, amongst many things. We agreed to split the 13-week project into three distinct phases; Discovery, Design and Implementation, using the Double Diamond to guide our work through these phases. With a complex problem space, we planned for a slightly longer discovery phase, and to define our focus over five weeks.

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Our double diamond

Kicking off discovery

The brief touched on some of the difficulties experienced by our stakeholder GP surgery, these included rural transport, continuity of care and provision of out-of-hours services amongst many others. This helped us not go into the project cold, but we were keen to meet with doctors face to face and delve into their day-to-day life as GPs, as well as introduce ourselves.

We wanted to gauge what the most limiting challenges are. We were interested in who they partner with, the impact of third party innovations in healthcare, and how they operate as part of the newly formed Primary Care Network of Chanctobury. Not only did we listen and learn, but the meeting generated some empathy for the varied challenges in Primary care.

Narrowing down

An affinity mapping exercise back at the office helped us see the themes in what we learned, and helped us mentally get some clarity amongst a sea of new acronyms. We also began building an experience map of people and Primary care journeys.

There were a number of challenges we started to uncover.

  • Transport of people in rural communities to other regional services, especially older people, is pen and paper based and lacks easy volunteer driver organisation.
  • Unsurprisingly, IT capabilities and integration underpin many inefficiencies.
  • Staffing issues, especially turnover and new staff training of front line staff is a pressure on resource and service.
  • New groupings of surgeries, with the Chanctonbury PCN being no different, are just starting to embed ways of working together.
  • Demands on GP surgeries for problems that can be treated at home or with over-the counter remedies
  • Raising awareness amongst patients to direct people to out of hours services at different local practices
  • Mental health in rural communities and impact of isolation.
An experience map of post its on brown papare
Experience map

We wanted to talk further with a wider set of staff. We were very grateful to have the opportunity to return and meet with front line staff, nurses, doctors and the practice manager to talk more around our targeted areas.

We planned the lines of enquiry while allowing for a fluid conversation, and used the app Otter to auto-transcribe the 2.5 hour session for us to refer back to. Initially planned as separate interviews, on the day staff joined us when they were able to step out, so the session naturally became a more informal group interview and discussion.

At Henfield medical centre posing our research questions and faciliatating discussion around the problem space

Exploring the problem space using 'How might we' statements

Compiling our insights we were able to create a first round of ‘How might we’ statements to help identify problem areas that may be helped through design in the time frame we have.

‘How Might We’ (HMW) statements are useful when wanting to frame the broad areas of challenge that you might want to design for. Very deliberate in its wording, ‘How’ reminds us that we don’t know how this can currently be addressed, helping create a sentiment of curiosity and openness to the challenge. ‘Might’ invites the team to consider lots of different ways to come to a solution, which may or may not be used. ‘We’ reminds us of the collaborative nature of most design projects. It provides gentle guidance for the team without restricting too early. These were our first round:


How might we improve self-care rates in rural areas to reduce demand on GP and front line staff time in triaging?


How might we help the surgery and newly formed PCN work with partners to manage community health?

Triaging system

How might we support or scale the Henfield Triage process?

Awareness and communications

How might we help the surgery and PCN better work with partners to manage patients'


How might we help the surgery better communicate with the local community?

Learn more in our first Vlog:

Next steps

We’ve gained incredible new perspectives from experienced Clearlefties in project playback sessions and ‘open surgery’ sessions. We will be going back to our pilot area Henfield, to talk to local users about their experiences and perspectives of GP health care, utilising some of Clearleft’s Guerilla research techniques.

You can follow us on Twitter here to help and follow our project. We'd love the support of the design and research community.