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With funding from the CURE Foundation, St. Mary's Hospital Centre created "Looking Forward," a website that provides information and personalized resources for patients recovering from all types of cancer. While researchers developed the content and mapped out what resources would benefit users, Evolving Web created the fully bilingual, mobile-first website for the "Looking Forward" program.
About the client
The St. Mary's Hospital Center is a community-based hospital in the Côte-des-Neiges neighbourhood of Montreal. It's affiliated with McGill University, and its research centre is a leading health services and teaching facility. The CURE Foundation is dedicated to fighting breast cancer by investing in programs for prevention and early detection and supporting patients and their families.
The Looking Forward website aims to provide recovering cancer patients with information and resources to help them rebuild their lives after completing their treatment. The goal is to provide a self-service platform that empowers individuals to thrive and overcome the challenges they will face in recovery.
The interactive questionnaire component of the website helps patients identify their needs and streamline the information for them. Many patients feel like they are left on their own after treatment. Their medical appointments are no longer regular and they are often hesitant to bring up problems with their healthcare team. This online resource seeks to fill an information gap for this phase of the cancer experience and engage patients to participate in their recovery.
Looking Forward was originally conceived as a series of seven booklets on which the website's content is based. It was previously available in print and as a set of PDF-based booklets accessed through the St. Mary's Hospital Centre and Rossy Cancer Network websites. We set out to create a more accessible, personalized online experience to help users find relevant resources. Given the need for users to share sensitive health information, ensuring privacy was a key concern. We also wanted to ensure that users could access information via any device.
It was essential for the application to provide information personalized for the user's needs. However, collecting and storing this information in a database was problematic because personal health information is highly sensitive, which could introduce privacy issues. Personalized experiences also rely on customizing each page load, which can introduce a lag in page loading times that disrupt the user experience.
The Looking Forward resource was previously stored as a set of PDF documents, which were not mobile-friendly, were difficult for staff to update, and had accessibility issues, making it a challenge to get the information into the hands of all recovering patients.
To address these challenges, we created a mobile-first website that walks the patient through the process of getting a customized recovery roadmap. A questionnaire allows patients to build their own recovery roadmap anonymously, making the information more streamlined and more available, increasing the chances that recovering cancer patients will use it. The application runs almost entirely on the client's side, meaning that the experience is seamless and the interface loads instantly.
Key features of the final product include:
- A streamlined user experience designed around the needs of recovering cancer patients
- Client-side personalization using anonymous session data instead of user accounts and stored health information
- Converting legacy PDFs to web markup aligned with accessibility standards
- A visual design that explores the use of colour, using colourful shapes and gradients that evoke change, movement, and energy, as well as love, hope and joy
As a result of our work with Looking Forward, users have instant access to information, encouraging them to complete the questionnaire and explore their recovery roadmap. At the same time, users can have confidence that their personal health information is not collected and cannot be used for any other purpose.
The structured content that feeds into the interactive experience allows us to make future improvements and add features based on user feedback.