A-Z Symptom Search

15th February 2019

A new online service has been launched for people in Northern Ireland to help us manage our health and wellbeing. In our blog this week Linda McRandle from the Health and Social Board, tells us what it all means…

We’ve all done it.  We’ve felt a bit under the weather and we’ve gone on to our phone or computer and googled our symptoms.

We’ll end up convincing ourselves that we’ve come down with a whole range of conditions, most of which are usually unlikely.  If we’re honest we’ll probably have come across some unusual websites and some of the information might not be very reliable or trust worthy.

But a new online service has now been developed, specifically for people in Northern Ireland. It will not only help us take control of the management of our health and wellbeing, but it also provides trusted information in language we all can understand.

The A-Z symptom search was formally launched on 29 January by the Department of Health’s Permanent Secretary, Richard Pengelly.

Hosted by nidirect, it is a Health and Social Care Board initiative, developed in conjunction with the Public Health Agency, Patient and Client Council, and Land and Property Services.

Over 600 conditions and illnesses are currently listed on the site, with a further 100 planned by summer 2019. Links to online booking of appointments and ordering repeat prescriptions in GP practices which offer these services are also available.

People can search using symptoms they may be experiencing, or using the name of a condition, if they already know it. They will also be able to browse the entire A to Z list of health conditions publishing, finding useful information in a clear, easy to read format.

The service will help people find high quality, trusted information on a variety of conditions aimed at making it easier to self-manage their condition, or know when, and how, to seek help from a healthcare professional.

The site has been developed with the help of patients who have helped shape the content including the design of the A-Z home page and advising on the language used. Patients and service users have been forthcoming with their views on what works for them, participating in testing sessions and providing feedback online and as a result we now have a site that is being used by in excess of 130K users each month.

The information is tailored for a Northern Ireland audience, shaped through engagement; resulting in a suite of information that is both accessible, useful and presented in plain language.

Check out the new service by visiting: www.nidirect.gov.uk/symptom-search

Pictured are Justin Greenwood, Karen Mooney, Chair of Patients Group – Royal College of GP in Northern Ireland and David Milliken at the launch of the Symptom Checker earlier this month.