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The new Citizens Panel – what do people really think of our technologies?

A new Citizens Panel, set up in conjunction with Leeds City Council and Healthwatch Leeds, helps us gather important user feedback on our technologies to ensure they are as practical as they are innovative.

The Panel’s first meeting, on 10 September 2015, involved 25 people from across the city with a wide range of perspectives on healthcare. The panel involves general users of healthcare, both able-bodied and disabled, some who have specific medical conditions but many of whom are in normal health.

Two technologies were showcased: a patch which enables remote reading of patients’ vital signs and a hands-free method of testing for blood in stool samples as it’s a warning sign of bowel cancer.

Issues raised by the panel on the former included handling of the data gathered, who would receive alerts and the practicalities of sticking the patch to your skin. The latter technology, aimed at improving take-up of early screening for bowel diseases, was viewed more favourably by some members of the panel than others, with questions regarding how the device might work with disabled toilets

Programme Manager for Colorectal Therapies HTC, Dr Neville Young explains: “Only 50-60 percent of those eligible for the bowel screening program currently test for blood in their stool, as most don’t like handling faeces. So we need to be sure that this new method – which uses a chemical added to the toilet bowl – will prove more acceptable to patients. The feedback from the Panel was extremely valuable, raising a number of issues we’d not considered before and we’ll be adapting these technologies as a result.”

All members of the panel have been invited to the National Meeting of the Colorectal Therapies HTC on 9 November 2015 where there will be an opportunity to see more of our technologies being showcased.