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Revolutionising sexual health testing: SH:24 walks off with UXUK award for its 5-star service

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SH:24 was the clear winner for best user experience in 2016’s UXUK Awards. The social enterprise took a vital health service – testing and treating people for sexually transmitted infections – and brought it into the 21st century.

SH:24 stood out as an organisation that really understands its users and their lifestyles. The new service gets rid of the frustration of having to wait for up to 4 hours to get tested at a walk-in clinic. So instead of having to take a morning off work, people can order a self testing kit to use at home – and post back a sample. People get their results by text message 3 days later.

Designer at SH:24 Mollie Courtenay described the organisation’s user-centred approach: “User Centred Design (UCD) is absolutely what we’re about. Our offices are near a clinic so whenever we produced a new paper prototype, we walked down the road to test it on real users.”

One of the challenges of the project was educating people on how to use the home kits – many users were struggling to take a blood sample. Testing with real users, SH:24 found that people were more likely to succeed if they first watched a ‘how to’ video. The organisation then promoted the video: “In the instructions for using the kit we added a link to the video and also added a top tips card to the kit. The video gives people the confidence to do it,” explained Mollie.

Feedback from surveys tells SH:24 that their new service is in tune with users: “It’s brilliant that you can order home tests online and avoid the judgement and shame of going to a clinic. It’s super easy to do and you’ve really thought through the confidential aspects.”

The DIY kits take the pressure off clinicians, allowing them to focus on treating complex cases, in an area of the UK that has one of the highest rates of STIs: the London boroughs of Lambeth and Southwark.

In future, online ordering and home kits will be rolled out to rural areas, where lack of public transport makes it hard to access STI testing services.

SH:24 sets a new standard for public sector service design and is a deserved winner of the 2016 UXUK Best User Experience award. The UCD approach taken by the team has helped them provide a seamless experience across digital and physical channels.” John Goodall, UXUK Moderator and Bunnyfoot Consultant

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The stats

  • Since 2015 more than 30,000 people have ordered a home kit from SH:24
  • In 2015 there were around 435,000 diagnoses of sexually transmitted infections (STIs) in England.
  • The most commonly diagnosed STI is chlamydia, with 200,288 diagnoses in 2015.

Find out more about SH:24 here: