Penn Medicine

From Digital Strategy to Site Launch

Mobile First, Fully Responsive Design

Mobile First, Fully Responsive Design

Many websites being built these days use fully Responsive Web Design as a technique to provide strong support for the varying form factors of desktop, tablet and smartphone, but few large institutional sites have the luxury of a true Mobile First redesign. Mobile First means conceiving of the content strategy and usability from the ground up—even HTML5 and advanced doctor-finding features—in the context of smartphone usage. With stats dramatically shifting towards mobile computing, integrating this edge with great usability, content, and features is the winning combination.

woman using tablet
In-Context Help

In-Context Help

Patients and their families face considerable challenges navigating the offerings, geography, and processes of any large hospital system. For that reason, the University of Pennsylvania Health System (UPHS or Penn Medicine) has invested in a system of contextual help that allows a wide range of specific and general FAQ entries to appear in context on each page—giving users the information they need the right time and place in their journey.

Penn Cancer
Federated Content Architecture

Federated Content Architecture

A major challenge in content management is multi-site content, which may need to be reused with specific rules among sites, and may or may not need to link back to a central location. For a large institution like Penn Medicine, there are many types of content that need to show up contextually in different sites, with different presentation, and yet be managed centrally. To address this challenge, TBG (The Berndt Group) worked closely with Penn Medicine to develop a federated content architecture that potentially spans all the Penn Medicine sites, and finds its first expression in the Penn Cancer site. This system allows a variety of kinds of content (news, events, blogs, etc.) to be managed through careful governance rules, tagged with appropriate metadata, and then promoted selectively to different areas in the Penn Medicine sites. It is an architecture that is both flexible and easy to extend—and provides obvious benefits in efficiency, consistency, and control for these broad types of institutional content.

solving a problem
Physician Finder

Physician Finder

All large hospital systems wrestle with their Physician Finder (or “Find-a-Doc”) applications, due to the typical fragmentation of the underlying doctor data set within their IT infrastructure. For the launch of Penn Cancer, TBG developed a new physician finder application in close integration with the site’s underlying content management system, reconciling numerous data sets in an automated way, and with detailed management interfaces to allow for better management of this crucial content. For the user experience, this meant more up-to-date, richer, and more fully featured information about Penn Cancer doctors. Of course, the system was designed abstractly enough to provide these services to any and all future Penn Medicine websites.

Doctor in Catscan room

TBG & Penn Medicine

Penn Medicine is a leading healthcare system in the Philadelphia area, providing world-renown treatment, research, and a broad range of unique specializations. One of Penn’s flagships is the Abramson Cancer Center (also known as Penn Cancer), an institution that is redefining the science and treatment around cancer through areas like genomic science, proton therapy, and speed of integration of research results into treatment. In other words—an absolute leader in the field.

TBG (The Berndt Group) is extremely pleased to work with Penn’s outstanding digital team on this ongoing multi-year project, developing an overall roadmap, strategy, user experience, and ultimately, CMS implementation for this world-class center. An object lesson of a complex hospital system site where all the components—including user experience, content strategy, and digital operations—need to be tightly coordinated and carefully thought through, the project provides an example of how an organization can reinvent its digital experience through and through.

From the start, the project was conceived not just to meet the known best practices of the day, but also to model a higher, next generation of user engagement. Working in the context of a Mobile First, fully Responsive, content targeting, HTML5 approach, TBG and Penn set out to create something unique, a holistically different kind of site for the future. Penn’s intentions were more than to create a great hospital system website, but rather to create the hospital system site of the future. The Abramson Cancer Center was the first expression of this direction.

At the end of the day, this project was not just another great heathcare website for Penn Medicine and TBG, but rather a real contribution to the vision of what is possible for digital healthcare marketing. Exciting, to say the least!

"Penn Medicine is lucky to have TBG as a strategic partner. Taking into account the complexities of our infrastructure and the sheer size of our organization and existing content, TBG worked with my team to develop a thoughtful plan that will evolve Penn's online presence, and do it quickly. We are positioning ourselves well to be more nimble, efficient, innovative and engaging."

Tanya Andreadis

Director, Interactive Marketing, Penn Medicine

  • award ribbon iconWorld Leader in Cancer Research, Patient Care, & Education
  • check iconFully Responsive Design
  • star iconFederated Content Architecture
  • award ribbon iconBest Practices Physcian Finder
  • trophy iconNationally Ranked Hospital by U.S. News & World Report
Overcoming Transformation Challenges

Overcoming Transformation Challenges

Of course, this transformation presented real challenges, since like any large hospital system, Penn was building from a long history of previous content, sites, and operational processes—all of which would need to be addressed in the course of the project. Building on the content re-usage and targeting capabilities of an excellent CMS/WCM platform, the site needed to be reconsidered simultaneously in terms of modular components that could be reused, and in terms of integral user experiences—paths that would inform and convert visitors, letting them know what to expect and orienting them to the complex offerings at Penn Cancer. Because Penn Cancer courses of treatment may involve multiple approaches, departments, technology and diagnostic protocols, the matter of orienting the patient or their families to Penn’s approach is both vital and a complex challenge for the Web experience.

Creating a Usable CMS Implementation

Creating a Usable CMS Implementation

The project also involved leading-edge technical considerations for Web content management (WCM). In the context of the site’s fully Responsive Web Design and advanced mobile features, the complexity of creating a usable CMS implementation is increased. Further, building on top of the strong CMS platform, the project included the development of a series of unique modules that directly addressed some of the most complex considerations for hospital systems—allowing users to organize Penn Cancer information of interest, wayfinding, find a doctor, and connecting a condition-based search to the appropriate Penn options in a thoughtful way. The project also addressed the holistic aspects of Web development, like Search Engine Optimization (SEO), social sharing, analytics, and site search.