I’m Sophie Lambert and I’m the user researcher on the Secure Communications service. It’s my job to try to work out what we can do to make some of our most vulnerable users’ lives a little bit easier.
People who are aged between 16 and 64 and have less than 6 months to live can apply for Personal Independence Payment (PIP) under special rules. This means that the claim is treated as high priority, is processed without a face to face assessment, and the payments are made weekly. To do this they need to provide a DS1500 form, a report completed by a doctor or nurse containing medical information about their condition.
Previously, a DS1500 form could only be sent to DWP via post and the average time for it to be received was 10 days. However, I learnt quickly that it can take much longer than this.
Now, our service allows healthcare professionals to submit a DS1500 form electronically which is received by DWP instantly and securely.
What can we do to help?
When somebody finds out they have less than 6 months to live, every moment counts. That’s why we’re reducing the amount of administration required and speeding up access to essential benefits.
Although our end user is the terminally ill patient, healthcare professionals are also a key user group for our service. We conducted user research with doctors and Macmillan nurses, visiting their hospitals and surgeries to understand how they work.
I gained insight into their working day and they helped us understand the complex lives of their patients and the expenses patients can face. This includes the cost of heating their home after the impact of chemotherapy. The DS1500 enables patients to get access to motability schemes and blue badges, which makes it clear how valuable our service could be.
Our service is in private beta which means we are testing it with a small number of healthcare professionals. We’re continuing to introduce our service to more doctors and Macmillan nurses, getting feedback and asking them to use the service for real patients. So far, we’ve received the digital DS1500 forms in a matter of seconds, not days or weeks, meaning the claim can be processed more efficiently.
Our service is about helping people in their final months, when time is precious. As a user researcher, seeing work being done to improve the lives of some our most vulnerable customers is incredibly rewarding.