Top 5 Features of ASCO’s Newly Redesigned Patient Education Website Highlighted

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Robert S. Miller, MD, FACP, FASCO

The redesign has solidified Cancer.Net’s position as the premier website of oncologist-approved information for cancer patients and their families.

—Robert S. Miller, MD, FACP, FASCO

ASCO recently launched a new and redesigned version of Cancer.Net, its patient-facing website that includes timely, comprehensive, and oncologist-approved information. With support from the Conquer Cancer Foundation, Cancer.Net is able to bring the expertise and resources of ASCO to your patients and their families and caregivers. The redesign was based on extensive consumer testing and included several phases of implementation over the past year, all aimed at providing patients and caregivers with the best educational experience.

“The redesign has solidified Cancer.Net’s position as the premier website of oncologist-approved information for cancer patients and their families,” said Cancer.Net Editor-in-Chief ­Robert S. Miller, MD, FACP, FASCO. “We encourage all health-care professionals to recommend the site for all of the patients and families that they serve.”

We recently talked with Dr. Miller about the top 5 new or updated features of Cancer.Net’s redesign.

1. Cancer.Net Blog

One of the first new features of the redesign to be pushed live is the Cancer.Net Blog, which launched in December 2013. Unlike some of the more traditional content on the website, which is peer-reviewed and has a more formal tone, the new blog provides a much more flexible and conversational platform for communicating with patients and their caregivers.

“We are proud to have many different types of authors contributing content to the blog,” Dr. Miller said. “To date, blog posts have been authored by physician members of the website’s editorial board and ASCO staff, and a growing number of guest authors including health-care professionals, advocates, patients, and families.”

In addition, the blog posts frequently cover breaking scientific news from ASCO’s conferences and journals that may be of interest to patients and family members, but it also includes topical posts about cancer treatment, prevention, supportive care, or, in some cases, the personal stories and experiences of survivors.

2. Ease of Navigation, Redesigned Homepage

The relaunched Cancer.Net has been thoroughly designed to be more streamlined and easy to navigate. One of the most prominent new features of the homepage includes the six navigational tiles in its center, introducing the major navigational sections of the website: Types of Cancer, Navigating Cancer Care, Coping & Emotions, Research & Advocacy, Survivorship, and Support Our Work.

According to Dr. Miller, usability testing and focus groups helped to focus the content of the website, grouping the vast majority of Cancer.Net’s extensive content into these six categories. Website users can also find the main categories listed across the top of each page, so they are easily available as visitors navigate throughout the site.

If these categories do not point a user to what they are looking for quickly, they can turn to an enhanced and much more prominent search function.

“We always had a search function, but it was harder to find, and the behind-the-scenes functionality of the search system is much more robust now,” Dr. Miller said.

For example, if a user misspells what they are searching for, the search function will now offer suggestions based on corrected spellings, using the “did you mean?” functionality that is available on most major search engine websites.

3. ‘Find a Cancer Doctor’ Database Enhancements

Find a Cancer Doctor is one of the most widely used features of Cancer.Net. This database of oncology professionals is populated using self-identified information from ASCO members who opt to be included when filling out demographic information for his or her societal membership.

The enhanced database now allows users to filter their search results by specialty, and by tumor type as well. Users can also filter their results by distance, choosing to search all of the United States, internationally, or within a certain number of miles from their home.

Once their search results appear, users can sort the results using the same options, distance, city name, oncologist name, or view their results on a map.

4. Multimedia Integration

Cancer.Net visitors may also notice that video content is now integrated into the content available throughout the website. Years ago, when the site first began to produce audio and video content for its patient audience it was all grouped together under a “multimedia” heading.

“The old method was not particularly logical,” Dr. Miller said. “When most people are looking for information they are interested in seeing all different channels. When searching for a specific cancer topic, they want to see articles, podcasts, and videos that are appropriate all in the same spot.”

Now, for example, if a user is trying to research information about teens with cancer, they will navigate to an article about the topic, with a video embedded on the page. And, different collaborations between ASCO and the LIVESTRONG Foundation have also yielded a greater amount of video content for patients, which has been integrated within the website.

5. Spanish Language Content

Spanish language users of Cancer.Net are now able to enjoy a mirror of the site in their native language. The homepage features an “Español” button in the top right hand corner that will toggle to a Spanish homepage, introducing the site and its sections in Spanish, just like the English version. This toggle appears on all pages that have a Spanish translation available.

“With the relaunch, it was important that the website looked the same but include Spanish content,” Dr. Miller said. “People who require Spanish content are no longer sent to a subsection of the English site, but to a specialized, Spanish-language Cancer.Net.”

To check out these new features and more, visit Cancer.Net. ■

© 2014. American Society of Clinical Oncology. All rights reserved.