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American physiatrist academy adds zing to online experience

The American Academy Of Physical Medicine And Rehabilitation website sees a 31% increase in traffic after adopting content manager Progress's Sitefinity software.

"The impact on our workflow is tremendous. The stakeholder simply makes the change, marketing approves it and it goes live. What took days can now be done in an hour." - Megan Brunner, AAPM&R digital marketing manager, on the revamped website (above), which was conceived by Progress.

VISITORS to the website of the American Academy Of Physical Medicine And Rehabilitation (AAPM&R) come from diverse constituencies with varying needs. Thousands visit the site each month to gain a basic understanding of physiatry because their physician has recommended a specialist in this field.

The academy is the national medical speciality organisation representing more than 10,000 physicians who are specialists in physical medicine and rehabilitation (PM&R). Also known as physiatrists, they treat medical conditions affecting the brain, spinal cord, nerves, bones, joints, ligaments, muscles and tendons. Physiatrists use cutting-edge and time-tested treatments to improve quality of life.

But as the primary medical society for the nation's physiatrists, the site's primary constituency is its 10,000 members who look to AAPM&R to advocate the strengthening of the speciality, help them meet mandates and advance clinical skills for future opportunities as well as guide physiatrists in the changing healthcare environment.

"Whether it's the one-off visitor who quickly needs an explanation of physiatry or a member needing in-depth research, our content needs to be easy to find and up to date," said Megan Brunner, AAPM&R digital marketing manager. "Since we have small IT and marketing departments, it's a priority that stakeholders are able to maintain and update their content."

Last straw

Managing content presented a formidable challenge with the organisation's SharePoint system. "The stakeholder had to submit a request, someone from marketing or IT had to make the edits then send the content back for approval," Ms Brunner said. "We were spending an inordinate amount of time making website edits when we could have been performing tasks to better serve members and further the association's mission."

In 2014, Microsoft changed its definition of a non-profit organisation. Under the new guidelines, AAPM&R was no longer classified as a non-profit, and its licensing fees skyrocketed. That proved to be the last straw. "Between maintenance and usability issues, and now cost, we clearly needed a new content management system," said John Schroeder, AAPM&R director of technology.

The Academy's RFP (request for proposal) for a new content management system included:

  • Accommodate single sign-on for members
  • Allow for easy content management by stakeholders throughout the organisation
  • Provide content hierarchy and taxonomy
  • Deliver a responsive experience, clean, clear UI and easy navigation

"After a lot of due diligence and research, the choices came down to Progress's Sitefinity and the other was Drupal," Mr Schroeder said. "What edged out Sitefinity for me was the stability of the product and its ability to accommodate single sign-on, which was a huge headache with our SharePoint system."

The decision made, AAPM&R teamed up with Progress's Sitefinity Platinum Partner Vanguard Technology, the only Sitefinity partner that exclusively serves the association industry. The project was done in eight months with kick-off in May, beta site in October and the production site going live in January. "We were making a fresh start," Mr Schroeder said.

"From October until the end of the year, we worked with stakeholders to retire content, migrate relevant ones and create new content."

Timely tools

Progress Sitefinity is a content management and marketing analytics platform designed to maximise the agility needed to succeed in today's rapidly changing digital marketplace.

It provides developers and IT teams the tools they need to support enterprise-level digital marketing, optimising the customer journey by delivering seamless personalised experiences across different technologies and devices.

Today, over 140,000 enterprises employ Progress technology, including Nasa, eBay, Pepsi-Co, Toyota and DBS Bank.

With AAPM&R's old SharePoint system, only four stakeholders in the organisation were able to make content changes. Within just a few months of the Sitefinity implementation, more than 20 stakeholders were able to manage and update their content. "The impact on our workflow is tremendous," Ms Brunner said. "The stakeholder simply makes the change, marketing approves it and it goes live. What took days can now be done in an hour."

One of the key requirements of the RFP was single sign-on capabilities. With its previous system, members had to repeatedly log in and out to access the member portal as well as gain access to gated content in the learning management system. "The ability of Sitefinity to handle single sign-on is a vast improvement to the user experience - the issue of needing to log in multiple times was one of the largest complaints from our members," said Mr Schroeder.

From a dynamic content standpoint, the site is now, according to Ms Brunner, a "go-to" resource for members. "Sitefinity, with its content hierarchy and taxonomy, allows us to structure the site in an 'everything is news' format with multiple, current news feeds, resulting in an increase in user engagement," she said.

Traffic statistics tell the story: Core member traffic is up 31 per cent per session and 19 per cent per user. Page views are up 25 per cent and 52 per cent of the academy's members logged in over the past six months - a significant increase.

Now, with streamlined workflows and updated content the norm, AAPM&R is looking forward to further enhancing the member experience with personalised content.

"We are just beginning to work with the academy on different personalisation possibilities," said Chris Bonney, vice-president of client experience at Vanguard Technology. "And Sitefinity offers a number of personalisation options based on log-in status and user experience."

Currently, Sitefinity is helping IT and marketing focus their efforts on continuously improving service levels to members. "The role of technology is to make things easier so we can better focus on the needs of the organisation and its members," Mr Schroeder said. "From the perspective of IT, marketing and everyone else I speak to, Sitefinity is clearly helping us to focus our efforts on meeting the mission of the organisation."

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