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By: Jessica Fucci on November 17th, 2022

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Modernizing the Digital Experience for Parents & Caregivers: Insights from Boston Children’s Hospital

Patient Experience | Patient Access | Patient Engagement | Patient-Provider Matching | Provider Data Management | Online Scheduling | Digital Access

Boston Children’s Hospital is dedicated to improving and advancing the health and well-being of children around the world through its life-changing work in clinical care, biomedical research, medical education, and community engagement. Ranked as the  number one pediatric hospital in the nation by U.S. News and World Report, the organization treats more children with rare diseases and complex conditions than any other hospital.

We recently had the privilege of sitting down with digital leader Haley Sterczala Palazini, Director, Web & Digital Strategy at Boston Children’s, to learn how the organization revamped their enterprise website with accessibility and digital self-service in mind.

Q: What was one of the first steps on your journey to remap the digital experience on your website? 

Haley Sterczala Palazini (HSP): First and foremost, we had to create a “golden record” for our provider data by consolidating the information we had and compiling it into a single source of truth. It was critical that we set up the right foundation for our data to ensure an accurate and consistent experience across our site. Additionally, we took a very critical eye to all of the accessibility areas we could improve upon, initially focusing on ensuring that the colors, links, media, and keyboard navigation we used on our site were all meeting the necessary guidelines. 

Q: Tell us a little bit about the breadth of clinical expertise that is represented within your provider base. Was it difficult for you to translate this into a digital experience?  

HSP: At BCH we have over 1,200 providers representing 74 unique clinical specialties. This posed a challenge as we began to configure our providers appropriately to ensure that the correct providers surface online for the unique conditions that they treat. We worked closely with the Kyruus Clinical Team during this process to layer on their proprietary clinical taxonomy to our provider profiles, to ensure that when parents and caregivers search for a provider on our site they are matched with the most appropriate care option for their child. 

Q: Can you give more insight into how you specifically tackled that for a certain service line?

HSP: Certain specialties require more work to make sure that the full scope of their practices are accurately conveyed. An example of this at BCH is with our urology specialists. Our Chief of Urology, Dr. Carlos Estrada worked hand-in-hand with Kyruus clinical leadership to ensure that the nuances of his specialists were captured accurately in their online profiles. They also worked with us to route certain conditions within urology to virtual care appointments to increase access. 

Q: As you worked to revamp your website, how did you ensure that it meets accessibility standards?   

HSP: It required a lot of coordinated effort across the organization to get us to where we are today in terms of accessibility. There were numerous internal challenges that we had to overcome—one of them being a general lack of knowledge within the organization around Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG). As we worked to address this area we decided to tackle the updates in a phased approach so that we could get started on initial improvements and refine them over time. We also had to ensure that any vendors we chose to partner with adhere to Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) guidelines as well so that accessibility remains top of mind throughout our entire site. 

Q: What is your strategy for online scheduling at Boston Children’s Hospital?     

HSP: As of today, we offer unauthenticated online scheduling for new patients within a subset of our specialties including Urology, General Surgery, Neurology, Otolaryngology, and Endocrinology. Launching with this subset has allowed us to learn and understand what parents are looking for when trying to get care for their children and how we can make the experience as seamless as possible. This insight also gave us the proof points we needed to garner broad support across the organization and identify areas for expansion within other service lines. 

Q: What’s next for Boston Children’s as you continue to evolve your digital strategy? 

HSP: As we continue down this path we plan to expand our online scheduling capabilities across additional service lines and specialty types to make it more widely available to our patient audiences. We will also continue our work to optimize our website’s accessibility, including things like incorporating schema into our web pages to not only improve SEO, but also assist with AI such as Siri and Alexa, as well as introducing Readspeaker— a text-to-speak software that allows for a web page to be read aloud to a user.


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For insights on how to develop a comprehensive Find Care experience for your website, including recommendations on how to incorporate online scheduling, download our guide, Your Find Care Experience: 4 Key Steps to Converting the Digitally-Empowered Healthcare Consumer.