Preventing sight loss through filmed patient stories

The solution

A film designed to encourage people to attend their retinal laser appointment, by:

  • Sharing messaging via patients’ real stories This approach ensured authenticity, breaking away from a top-down us (professionals) versus ‘them’ (patients ) approach
  • Showing what the treatment actually entails, as experienced by peers
  • Using social proof to normalise viewers’ fears around treatment (removing stigma) and then to provide role modelling to encourage engagement

When we contacted Eleanor with a rough framework of an idea, we had no idea of how to put it all together. Eleanor facilitated and helped us through a series of complex thought processes to create an incredibly powerful piece of work. The final film conveyed all our key messages while putting the patients’ voice – and their experience – at the forefront.

Samantha Mann Consultant Ophthalmologist Guys and St Thomas’ NHS Foundation | President, British Association of Retinal Screeners

How we did it

The project took an iterative approach, bringing everyone together – including healthcare staff and patients – in a collaborative process that followed the four phases of the Double Diamond model:

double diamond sketch model

  1. Discover Discussions between Articulate’s Eleanor Stanley, consultant ophthalmologist Samantha Mann and retinal screener Kam Rajaby. Eleanor asked a series of questions to help the clinical team explore the objectives, possible narrative, values and approach, and to identify possible patients to collaborate with the project.
  2. Define The team explored options and decided to go for one 2.5–3-minute film that would include three patients who represented different patient groups. Messaging would be developed only following insight work with patients. Articulate brought on board videographer Ken Chu to advise from a production perspective.
  3. Develop Eleanor conducted semi-structured interviews with the three patients to explore in depth their experiences of living with diabetes, eye health and how their attitudes to eye treatment have changed over time. She analysed these narratives and combined key findings with the clinical team’s priorities to produce simple messaging that would meet strategic aims through effective storytelling.
  4. Deliver Production and post-production stages using an iterative approach throughout – from developing a script and short list through the shoot and edit – to produce a narrative that is natural, flowing and authentic while still meeting the strategic aims and providing important messaging.

double diamond sketch model

Learning points

  • Allow time to fully explore the options. Since the project was planned well in advance, the team had space to gather insights, carry out desk research and compare different styles of film to select the most effective approach.
  • Put service users at the heart of the project. Everyone on the team shared a belief that patient wellbeing should be the priority throughout the process. This is especially important when people are asked to share their personal health stories. Time and budget was allocated to look after the patients – for example, providing accommodation, travel costs and refreshments throughout the shoot. Filming was planned to fit around each individual’s location and commitments.
  • Invest in building trust across the team. Regular check-ins and updates helped build rapport and connection across the whole team. By the time everyone came together for the shoot, many had not yet met face to face, but there were smiles and hugs all round. The patients found it helpful to meet others with similar experiences and shared contact details with each other.
  • Clarify review and sign-off processes thoroughly. Some extra feedback was received following unplanned review stages and extra tasks were needed due to new accessibility guidelines. Both these led to unexpected amendments late in the production process although both benefited the quality of the film.
  • Take time to develop the message. Having senior clinicians available on the shoot was helpful in guiding the flow of the film.
  • Have a clear plan – but be prepared to improvise. It was helpful to have a draft script and shot list for the technical sections but we were open to thinking on the hoof too. We filmed some completely unplanned sections that worked brilliantly.
Preventing sight loss

When I was approached about filming, I knew I had to do it. Films like this didn’t exist when I started my journey – but if they did, my outcomes may have been better. Eleanor and the team were kind, patient and encouraging throughout the whole process and meeting the other service users was inspiring.

When the film was finished, watching it was incredibly powerful. I can’t thank the team enough for making such an important film and doing it with respect, integrity and good fun.

Katrina Patient participant

Watch the film

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