Bringing the Patient- Centered Experience to the Online World
At Cancer Treatment Centers of America (CTCA), patients find personalized, integrated and caring treatment. Those who enter the hospitals for the first time immediately notice the warm, nurturing environment.
The organization wanted to re-create that powerful, positive first impression well before prospective patients ever step foot in a facility, as they and their caregivers explore their options online. But like many organizations today, CTCA struggled with how to deliver a digital experience that truly reflects the in- person experience.
“Patients say to us, ‘I knew CTCA was the place for me the moment I walked in the door,’” said Matt Eaves, director, Engagement, CTCA. “There was sharp contrast between the wonderful experience we were offering in the hospital versus what was on our website. How do we move that to the online environment?”
Deep Immersion: Understanding the CTCA Experience
CTCA turned to EffectiveUI for its expertise in translating offline experiences in the digital world. Working closely with CTCA, the EffectiveUI team took a patient-centric design approach to understand the journey patients go through when they choose and then receive treatment at CTCA.
“EffectiveUI really worked onsite with our staff to observe and understand what happens as we deliver care every day,” Eaves said. “They spent more time in the hospital than in a conference room. That approach really set this project apart from others.”
The EffectiveUI team consulted existing research from CTCA regarding patient decisions about care, CTCA brand perceptions and advertising effectiveness – helping the team better understand what part of the patient experience to focus on.
In a kick-off workshop with CTCA stakeholders, EffectiveUI collected thoughts on everything patients may be hearing, seeing, saying, doing and thinking when they are dealing with a diagnosis of cancer to help the team speak to patients from a place of understanding.
For a sense of a “day in the life” of a patient at CTCA, the team visited each of the areas of a CTCA hospital where patients would go in their journeys from their intake process through to treatment. EffectiveUI interviewed various healthcare practitioners, including doctors, nurses and coordinators, to gain a deeper understanding of the patient journey from their perspective.
Through co-creation workshops, EffectiveUI built a sense of the chronology of the patient journey, from the first call to the organization through their evaluation and eventual treatment. Teaming with CTCA nurses and other staff members that interact with patients throughout the process, EffectiveUI captured the content to show exactly how CTCA interacts with patients to meet their physical, mental, emotional and logistical needs.
Designing an Empathetic Patient Experience
Cancer patients are already searching for answers to difficult questions. What they crave most is a window into what to expect. To bridge that gap, EffectiveUI designed a digital patient experience to help walk prospective patients and their caregivers through an empathetic, chronological look at what it is like to be a patient at a CTCA hospital.
This digital patient experience turns to those most credible and intimately familiar with CTCA to tell the story – the caregivers, doctors and staff at CTCA who walk the journey every day. With videos, photos, and insights offered up in an easy-to-understand flow, users are encouraged to simply sit back and absorb. The experience is more “push and play” than the usual “search and browse” inherent in most websites.
Considering the difficulty many cancer patients face in finding good information online, the new site keeps navigation extremely simple, with just three main section links on the launch page and minimal navigation. Each section walks patients through the three primary phases of the CTCA experience:
- Before Coming to CTCA – From the first phone call a patient makes to CTCA, the organization takes care of them in a personalized way. Videos bring prospective patients through the journey, with text kept minimal and strategic. Most importantly, the site shows that CTCA understands the questions that patients have and walks them through every step.
- Your Evaluation – Before treatment begins, patients visit CTCA for a 3-5 day evaluation that results in a highly personalized treatment plan created by a Patient Empowered Care team of specialists. At every point, a friendly, knowledgeable face takes patients through the process.
- The evaluation section highlights CTCA representatives that patients are likely to meet, from the driver greeting them at the airport to the concierge in the lobby to a care manager that coordinates visits. With numerous photos of the hospital environment, prospective patients get a feel for the CTCA experience.
- YourTreatment –Treatment at CTCA focuses on holistic care that helps maintain quality of life. This section highlights the professionals and advanced technology that the organization employs to address cancer head on.
- Videos feature a care manager, medical oncologist, naturopath, dietitian, mind- body medicine practitioner, pastor and even hospital chefs – an example of the unusual level of expertise that comes together to treat each patient. The section concludes by encouraging patients to call CTCA to have their questions answered.
Collaborating with CTCA, EffectiveUI created a prototype of the new site design and interaction of the digital patient experience, and provided technical recommendations to the organization’s in-house development team that will develop and deploy it.
With Patients, ‘Every Step of the Way’
Through this new site, prospective patients and caregivers truly gain a sense of the CTCA experience, from the physical environment to the dedicated way its people deliver care. Real patients and real caregivers provide a window into exactly what they can expect, helping answer their questions, ease their minds and offer much-needed hope.
“Learning you have cancer and making a decision about where to get treatment is a very difficult experience,” Eaves said. “Cancer patients need to be empowered with information and choices. Many of our patients travel to us so we created an online experience to give people a better sense of what we offer, how we deliver care and what it is like to be treated in one of our hospitals, before they ever step foot inside a facility.”