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M. D. Anderson Launches Web Site with New Look, New Features

M. D. Anderson Launches Web Site with New Look, New Features
M. D. Anderson News Release 11/20/00

It's precisely what the doctors – and patients and public – ordered for a premier Web site for the nation's leading cancer hospital.

The University of Texas M. D. Anderson Cancer Center recently launched its re-vamped Web site, a site that now has a bold, fresh design welcoming visitors with simpler navigation, a more streamlined site structure and faster search capability. Vibrant photos of patients, faculty, staff and volunteers reflect a commitment to a non-commercial, compassionate feel to the site.

The site, which already has earned high praise for its content, is divided into three main sections:  "Patients and Public," "Cancer Professionals" and "About M. D. Anderson." These categories allow diverse site visitors – patients, caregivers, professionals and students, among others – the ability to zero in on content and features relevant to their needs.

In addition to the new format for easier access, more information about specific diseases is being added and updated along with improved access to medical articles. The pull-down disease list is expanded and enhanced, and another pull-down menu is available to offer prospective patients specific information about M. D. Anderson's multidisciplinary care centers. Care centers serve as “home base” by streamlining patient care services specific to a certain type of cancer into one central location.

Carried over, yet further improved and simplified, is the online referral form for patients who wish to refer themselves to M. D. Anderson for treatment. Initiated in December 1997, some 3,868 people have referred themselves online for an appointment, 586 patients have been referred online by their physicians, and more than 26,000 people have inquired online about M. D. Anderson services. During the initial two years, 2,221 patient referral forms were submitted online – 1,946 patient self-referrals and 275 physician initiated referrals – and 872 of those individuals became M. D. Anderson patients.

According to Dr. Mitchell Morris, senior vice president and chief information officer at
M. D. Anderson, the new design enhances the self-referral process.

"With this new format, prospective patients and interested physicians can easily access key facts and learn about the benefits M. D. Anderson can provide, including information about treatments where we have achieved superior outcomes. The needs of the patient are our primary focus at M. D. Anderson, and that extends to our new Web site. Everything is done to make life easier for our patients," said Dr. Morris.

The information needs of cancer patients are different from general users' needs, said Alan Powell, M. D. Anderson's manager of Internet Services. It was vital to listen to the customer and to design this site from the user’s point of view, he said. Powell and his team gathered extensive feedback solicited from focus groups, patients, patients' families, clinical and research professionals, internal committees at M. D. Anderson and outside experts.

"From those polled, we learned that our Web site visitors expect top-notch, current information from a source as highly regarded as M. D. Anderson. They have a need for more extensive, patient-oriented medical information that reflects M. D. Anderson's exceptional expertise and knowledge," he said. "Specifically, they want to know about the physicians who see patients, and how to become a patient at M. D. Anderson."

To help keep up with information that constantly changes, new content management software powering the site will allow M. D. Anderson’s Internet specialists to better manage growth and change as the Web site evolves. The new content management system supports the decentralization of content authoring to subject experts without requiring them to become Web developers.

“A key benefit of this new approach is to empower business users to manage content, keeping the Web site fresh with timely, customer-focused information, while Internet Services focuses on developing and enriching site functionality,” said Dave Browne, principal with the Global Healthcare Group of Computer Science Corporation (CSC), the company retained by M. D. Anderson to support this project.

“Re-vamping M. D. Anderson’s Web site while implementing a new technical system required both a solid understanding of the necessary technology and the ability to execute the technology development in a timely manner,” Browne said.

CSC provided planning, project management and implementation support for the re-design effort, establishing a development environment on site at the M. D. Anderson campus, and worked side-by-side with the institution’s Internet Services team to achieve the key milestones in the development plan.

In the future, M. D. Anderson patients will be able to customize the site to meet their specific needs through a private, password-controlled service.

“We have begun working on, a site with secure access for our patients, where they can check their appointment schedule, get specific information about their own condition, and interact with a variety of customized services designed for them,” Dr. Morris said. Much of this content will take advantage of broadband technologies and employ streaming audio and video.

“With M. D. Anderson as one of the first cancer centers to go online with patient charting, this patient gateway completes the circle of information sharing and access," said Dr. Morris.


© 2015 The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center