Case Study:


St. Luke's Health System

Enabling the Future of Care



Increase in Sessions Using Search

As the only Idaho-based not-for-profit health system, and a nationally recognized healthcare leader, St. Luke's Health System is a vital part of the communities they serve from the basics of primary care through to the latest advanced cancer care.

With a stated vision of moving to an accountable care model, St. Luke's started its relationship with Extractable by asking a broad and challenging question: "Looking into the future, what should a healthcare system digital experience deliver for its community?"

Diagnosis: Deep Discovery and Insight

To answer this question, the team embarked on a digital strategy engagement resulting in a five-year digital roadmap that would drive everything from the initial website redesign to future digital developments needed to deliver on St. Luke's transformational vision.

The strategy effort started with a deep discovery. We interviewed everyone from the Chief Medical Officer and Chief Transformation Officer to physicians, administrative and support staff. We took a deep dive into the analytics of the current digital experience and reviewed the digital experiences of leading healthcare organizations around the world.

And, most critically, we undertook deep research with actual St. Luke's patients around the state, including interviews and co-creation exercises.

The research participants covered the gamut of St. Luke's community, from healthy twenty-somethings with a sense of invincibility to patients with long-term chronic conditions who may have had more expertise in navigating the healthcare system than many healthcare professionals.

Co-creation Workshop

As part of the co-creation exercise, participants were asked to imagine a personalized healthcare dashboard and prioritize the modules on it. This led to some interesting insights on the difference in priorities between healthcare professionals and consumers.

Some of the key insights that emerged at the end of the discovery phase:

  • Complexity and diversity: With many digital experiences there is a primary path, purpose or task around which the experience is designed. In this research, we saw a massive diversity of users on every axis (age, demographics, education level, geography, health, understanding of health, understanding of the healthcare system and proactivity) as well as wide differences in their desired tasks and their journey stages. This finding meant that the future-state experience needed to allow every user to make the journey that made sense for them, rather than relying on a primary path.
  • Inside out: Healthcare is particularly prone to expressing itself using advanced terminology and imposing its internal structures on patients. St. Luke's is not alone in this, and the structure of their recent digital experience reflected its own departmental structure, not how its patients wanted to engage. One key realization for the team was the complexity and depth of medical taxonomy that would be needed – such that when a visitor typed "Diabetes" into the doctor finder, for example, we could connect them to Endocrinologists who could help them.
  • Opportunities: The team also identified some key quantifiable opportunities to attract more visitors to the site through search, to connect them to the right clinic / doctor, to support the patient through the administrative side of receiving healthcare, and in the long term advance their wellness.

One other area of insight came in discussions around digital health, specifically how to drive adoption of electronic medical records (EMR) and digital communication tools to interact with physicians and providers outside of the clinic.

I tend to think: If they care about their webpage, you’re going to get better care.

At the end of the strategy phase, Extractable laid out a five-year phased digital roadmap, including the purpose of the digital experience for St. Luke's, the features and functionality required to deliver for its communities, the technical platform required (including a new CMS and other integrations), the investments required, and a digital governance model to support the changes needed internally.

Treatment: Designing a new experience

With the diagnosis in place, the Extractable team worked closely with St. Luke's core digital team to start designing the new digital experience. The first phase was re-imaging the entire public digital experience with later phases tackling the logged in, authenticated experience.

Key features of the experience design included:

  • Contextual Disclosure / Hub approach. From the discovery that every user's journey is distinct, the core of the site's design is based on hubs – for each condition, treatment, specialty clinic, doctor, location and health topic. Each hub, after displaying the core content for its topics, then contextually connects the visitor to all the relevant other types of content. For example, a visitor on the diabetes condition page is connected to endocrinologists (doctors), weight loss approaches and treatment clinics as well as topical health content. By connecting every type of content in the experience to every other type, the visitor can always find what they need, irrespective of their medical understanding. However, without an advanced CMS and taxonomy, such an approach would have been intensely difficult to execute.

Reimagined doctor finder simplifies the process with key filtering tools.

  • Doctor Finder. The core of the experience is the St. Luke's doctor finder. The research revealed that different factors are important for patients when picking between types of care (location is more important in primary care, for example). Our design for the doctor finder simplifies the process while giving users key filtering tools based on the type of decision they are making. The tool even groups doctors and clinics that are in the same location to ease decision-making.
  • Search and Browse. The new design brought strong, faceted and predictive search to the heart of the experience. But, for those users with a less specific information need, the new experience provides a parallel browsing path to the hub content.
  • Fully Responsive Design. The experience seamlessly scales across all device sizes, from smartphones to larger desktops, taking advantage of the larger real estate available on modern laptops and desktops.
  • Advanced Taxonomy. As the entire site content, search tools and CMS automation are based on the relationships between content, it was critical to have a core taxonomy powering the experience. Realizing that building a new medical taxonomy from scratch was unfeasible, the team helped source, then integrated, a taxonomy of thousands of terms, consisting of hundreds of conditions mapped to corresponding specialties, treatments and procedures as well as synonyms and common misspellings.

With the design in place, the new experience was been built out on the advanced Sitecore Content Management (CMS) atop a scalable cloud-based infrastructure and populated with all new content, written to be more engaging for all of St. Luke's visitors.

To be able to measure success and drive post-launch optimization, a detailed analytics infrastructure was also put in place to look at user success (or not) across multiple dimensions and segments.