Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center “Specializes in You” with an Innovative and Personalized Digital Landscape


Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center (MSK) introduced a new, consumer-friendly web presence for (Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center) and (Louis V. Gerstner, Jr. Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences, Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center), featuring an innovative platform and on-demand navigation for patients, caregivers, researchers, healthcare professionals, and graduate students, among other core audiences.

Memorial Sloan Kettering is the first organization in the United States to build an enterprise-grade platform with Drupal 8, a leading open-source web-content-management system, and MSK is also one of the first tristate-area healthcare providers to create and host a fully responsive mobile-enabled site. As one of the largest cancer centers in the country, MSK cares for more than 130,000 people each year, and its digital reach is even broader, with more than 5.3 million unique visitors annually from around the world.

“Whether someone engages with us at one of our facilities or online, we want it to be a streamlined, positive experience that is relevant, informative, and tailored to what they need,” said Avice Meehan, Senior Vice President and Chief Communications Officer, MSK. “By updating our web presence, we are making an even greater commitment to serving the needs of patients and caregivers, as well as healthcare providers, researchers, and others who look to Memorial Sloan Kettering for information about the latest cancer advances, educational opportunities, pioneering science, and exceptional care.”

Following last year’s launch of the “More Science. Less Fear.” creative campaign, the website refresh is the latest initiative in Memorial Sloan Kettering’s efforts to broaden how people think about cancer and become informed consumers. The website further enhances the patient experience by providing an instant connection to MSK’s personalized mobile app and online patient portal, allowing users to securely access information about their care, such as lab results, appointments, bills, and more. Since its launch in mid-February, the mobile app has been downloaded 2,300 times while the online patient portal currently has over 45,000 validated users.

“Through our digital landscape, we have the ability to connect directly to patients at one of the scariest times in their lives and seamlessly provide them with pertinent information,” says Meehan.

Global marketing and technology company DigitasLBi developed the strategy, execution, and creative for the sites, with the goal of enhancing the overall user experience. With more than 20,000 pages, the new preserves the existing rich content while creating a more intuitive, streamlined experience. From the home page, information is tailored to individual needs and interests, providing users with three distinct options for proceeding: Patient/Caregiver, Researcher, or Healthcare Professional. The site’s focused pathways and ability to adapt to every screen size allows users to quickly access the information they are in search of at the times they need it most.

In addition to improving the ease of navigation, DigitasLBi worked with MSK to redefine its visual brand identity through dynamic new photography displayed throughout the home page and segment landing pages, as well as in select disease guides. The combined effect of content, tone, and imagery, all tailored to individual user needs, serves to heighten the personalized experience, creating a seamless, dynamic digital home.

“Nearly 100 internal and external interviews helped us begin to understand the complex needs we had to address. From a recently diagnosed patient, who is overwhelmed and doesn’t know where to begin, to a postdoctoral researcher reviewing the latest biomedical studies, we needed to provide contextual and relevant next steps throughout the user’s journey on the site,” says Norman de Greve, President, DigitasLBi Boston/Detroit. “It was imperative to understand the audience’s mind-set and provide a well-oiled, guided path, rather than an open-ended experience with too many options.”

The new sites also reflect Memorial Sloan Kettering’s decision to innovate and build with Drupal 8, an open-source content-management system (CMS) still in beta testing. MSK is one of the first organizations to commit to an enterprise-grade implementation of the emergent technology. Technology partner Phase2, a leader in the open-source community and an early adopter of previous Drupal versions, led the development and Drupal theming of tools and functionalities for MSK’s new web presence. 

“Memorial Sloan Kettering’s decision to embrace Drupal 8 while still in beta testing demonstrates the center’s commitment to innovation in all things,” said Jeff Walpole, CEO, Phase2. “Medical and digital teams alike are not afraid to explore the unknown. In the case of Drupal 8, being an early adopter allowed the MSK team to create a more powerful CMS while demonstrating the leadership the center is known for.”

Phase2 also worked closely with MSK consultant and lead web developer Jacob Rockowitz, Consultant and President, The Big Blue House.

While developing the platform, Memorial Sloan Kettering was an important core contributor to the open-source Drupal 8 project. The code used to develop and was released to the open-source community to further drive innovation and accelerate the final release of Drupal 8.