Redesigning the IDEAL website

In this post, we invite you to participate in helping with the IDEAL website redesign.  You can get started right away if you want by completing this one-question survey about your specialty or discipline.  (If you’ve already completed the pop-up one, you don’t need to do it again.)

It’s now over 10 years since the IDEAL Collaboration was launched.  The time has come to bring our website up to date.  This blog is about how we are planning on doing this, and how you can help.

A lot of water has flowed under the bridge since 2010, but one thing has not changed.  New health care interventions must be underpinned by reliable evidence of effectiveness and safety. As we anticipate a future of further depleted resources and hugely increased pressure on health spending, so new interventions will have to prove their worth.  We urgently need better study designs that encourage innovation whilst reliably demonstrating effectiveness.

IDEAL is now internationally recognised as an integrated evaluation pathway for evaluation of complex interventions.  Starting with surgery, it has now been used in invasive non-surgical procedures, physiotherapy, radiotherapy, quality improvement studies and the evaluation of therapeutic devices.

The IDEAL guidelines for reporting were published in 2020, and appear on the EQUATOR guidelines pages.  Endorsements have come from major journals (Lancet, BMJ, Annals of Surgery) and professional bodies (Royal College of Surgeons).

There are IDEAL centres in the Netherlands and China as well as the Oxford centre.  Plans for a North American IDEAL network are progressing quickly.  IDEAL is being used in Health Technology Assessment and commissioning/purchasing decisions in Scotland, the Netherlands and Canada.  The head of the Chinese IDEAL Centre has been appointed as the scientific advisor for the Chinese technology evaluation centre in Hainan province.

The number of papers using or citing IDEAL continues to grow, and the NIHR in the UK has funded a number of IDEAL format studies, including an ongoing study of image guided brain cancer surgery.

Our recent Policy Forum was attended by high level representatives of NIHR, NICE, the MHRA (the UK’s regulator for medicine and medical devices) and the Commissioners at NHS England.  We are now in discussions about using IDEAL more systematically in the Commissioning process.

We have developed a range of training materials and a faculty of presenters, and have recently started to offer an Advisory service for those wishing to develop their research or evaluation using IDEAL principles.

The Collaboration continues to move forward intellectually too.  Hani Marcus from London has led the development of detailed guidance on IDEAL Stage 0 – the pre-clinical evaluation of devices.  Arsenio Paez from New York has led a group to discuss how to decide whether a randomised trial is necessary for new devices.  Both papers will be published shortly.  Meanwhile IDEAL has begin a major project on developing guidelines for the evaluation of surgical robots.

Meet our team and our vision for the website redesign

Peter McCulloch

Here’s what we want to achieve with the updated website:

  • Improved adherence to accessibility standards
  • A modern, engaging visual identity
  • Easier access to IDEAL resources
  • Better support for educational events
          • Better support for innovators and researchers planning evaluations of surgical procedures.


Allison Hirst

Because surgery is procedure-based, it presents challenges to gathering, reporting, and applying sound evidence that are not seen in medicine. Therefore our broad aim to increase awareness and utilisation of the IDEAL framework in surgical research.

A user-centred approach

Arsenio Paez

Evidence from human-computer interaction research consistently shows that involving users early on in any design process increases the chances of success.

This ought to be a truism but isn’t.  Sometimes, we assume we know what users want without asking them.  Often, we lack a clear understanding of what exactly users want to achieve in interacting with a resource.  On the other hand, user research can be a never-ending piece of string.


Mudathir Ibrahim


So the key challenge is:

How do we get best value from user involvement using the resources we have available?



Baptiste Vasey

Here’s how we intend to approach it:

  1. A series of simple surveys on the IDEAL website, to understand who uses the site and what they are looking for.  Take the first one now!
  2. Recruiting an informal, representative group of website users who can provide insight on the user experience
  3. Conducting cycles of design, development, and evaluation  with this group as we progress through the project.


IDEAL is a website that has something for a varied audience.  In particular, we need to involve surgeons, researchers, editors, and commissioners.

If you would like to help, we’ll be happy to hear from you.  Tweet us at @IDEALcollab, or email Allison Hirst at, tell us a little about yourself and we’ll take it from there.


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