Standard for creating health content
This standard outlines some essential requirements and best practice guidance for creating high quality health content. It's designed for any organisation that produces health and care information.
- Follow a process for checking content and getting approval, including clinical approval.
- Have a planned review cycle for all content so you keep it up to date and clinically accurate.
- Make clear which organisation has published the content.
- Be transparent about adverts and any potential conflicts of interest, such as sponsorship.
- Follow a clear, consistent, documented process, including version control and archiving.
- Display the date the content was last checked and when it will be checked again.
- Provide training and support so your team can follow the process.
- Use the NHS identity guidelines and design system or follow your organisation's brand and style guidelines.
- Set objectives and identify outcomes for your content and evaluate against them.
- Invite feedback from users (the people who will use your content) so you can review or improve it.
- Actively manage feedback and respond where appropriate.
- Create content using high quality clinical evidence.
- Get clinical and other relevant subject matter experts to review and approve content (as part of your process).
- Check the evidence every time you review or update clinical content.
- If you're translating into another language make sure the translation remains clinically accurate.
- Keep a record of sources of evidence you use.
- Stay in touch with developments in clinical evidence and update content when evidence changes.
- Follow copyright and licensing rules.
- If relevant, put in place and follow policies for consent, data protection, confidentiality and safeguarding.
- Develop content based on user and organisation needs.
- Consult with the people who are going to use your content.
- Design and test your content to make sure it meets their needs.
- Improve your content based on user feedback.
- Involve colleagues and other key stakeholders in developing the content.
- Make sure your content and design are simple and clear.
- Use concise, plain English so your content is easy to understand.
- Choose the most appropriate format for your users and the nature of your content, such as text, images or videos.
- Make sure users can find your content, on the internet and on your website.
- Make it easy for people to navigate to any other content they need, on your site or elsewhere.
- Consider how your content affects people with "protected characteristics" (Equality Act 2010).
- Consider people who may have difficulty getting the healthcare they need, like Gypsies and Travellers or people who do not have English as a first language.
- Think about groups who may be under-represented in making decisions about content, such as ethnic minorities or people with disabilities.
- Make your content accessible to everyone who needs it (WCAG 2.1 AA for websites and mobile apps).
- Make health information easy to use for people who struggle to read and understand words and numbers.
- Co-design or co-produce content with your users.
Service manual guidance that will help you meet the standard
Developing this standard
This standard, which we've developed with NHS England, replaces their former assessment and certification scheme known as the Information Standard, which has now closed.
We've carried out user research with a range of NHS organisations and other organisations that create health content. We also consulted the Patient Information Forum, a UK organisation that represents health information producers.
We believe information that is clear, accurate, evidence-based, up to date and easy to use allows people, patients and communities to become better informed and more involved in their health and care.
Would you like to contribute to this guidance?
Please let us know how this has worked for you and, in particular, if you have research findings to share. This will help us improve it for everyone.
Before you start, you will need a GitHub account. It's an open forum where we collect feedback.