image of MSK homepage on tablet and mobile

The healthcare industry has become more and more competitive as patients adopt behaviors that are more traditionally associated with consumers. Healthcare systems are finding that their audience is demanding a streamlined digital experience, and healthcare providers at large are finding it necessary to urgently update their digital platforms to respond to this expectation and remain competitive.

Memorial Sloan Kettering’s future-focused Drupal 8 platform provides a leg up on the competition. Like its clinicians and researchers, Memorial Sloan Kettering’s digital team was not afraid of innovation. This was reflected in their decision to commit to an enterprise-grade Drupal 8 implementation while D8 was still in beta testing. Their calculated gamble paid off: implementing Drupal 8 allowed Memorial Sloan Kettering to build a more powerful, flexible platform in a shorter amount of time than would ever have been possible in Drupal 6. Drupal 8 will provide the infrastructure needed to develop engaging digital experiences that instill trust and loyalty into their new digital health consumer audience.

Why Drupal was chosen: 

Drupal 8’s configuration management capabilities, front-end integrations, and object-oriented programming all contributed to the enhanced flexibility of the platform and accelerated velocity of development. Key alterations in the core software (HTML template extensions, for example) allowed difficult problems to be solved more easily than was possible in Drupal 7.

Describe the project (goals, requirements and outcome): 

Together, Memorial Sloan Kettering and Phase2 were able to give back to the open source community. As a result of the project, many key patches, bug fixes, and modules were contributed to Drupal 8 core, moving Drupal 8 closer to final release. And because this was one of the first major Drupal 8 installations, we were able to share the knowledge gained from the experience with other organizations contemplating a similar move.

Given the vibrant level of engagement and community support for Drupal 8, Memorial Sloan Kettering has guaranteed a long-lasting return on investment by thinking ahead. Not only has the Cancer Center widened the talent pool for potential in-house development recruits, Memorial Sloan Kettering played an important role in the open source development of enterprise Drupal 8. In the process, they created an innovative platform with on-demand navigation for patients, caregivers, researchers, healthcare professionals, and students.

Modules/Themes/Distributions
Key modules/theme/distribution used: 
Why these modules/theme/distribution were chosen: 

As one of the first enterprise sites launched on Drupal 8, we were excited to find that almost all key functionality was already baked into Drupal 8 core. MSK was using 150 contributed modules on the previous platform, when MSK moved to Drupal 8, we were left with only 9!

YAML Form
We created this module specifically for MSKCC to allow the creation of custom forms using YAML. The Web Form module wasn’t available in Drupal 8 at the time, and YAML Form was intended to fit a smaller use case than Web Form, using YAML instead of a web UI to define custom forms. Recently, YAML is going to get rolled into Drupal core as part of the web form functionality.

Memcache:
This module was crucial for storing various Drupal 8 cache bins in memory to optimize performance.

Head 2 head Module:
Since we launched MSK’s site on Drupal 8 while still in beta, the Head 2 Head module was crucial for supporting an unofficial beta-to-beta upgrade path until core was able to support ths functionality.

Redirect module:
The redirect module was important for creating redirects from the old Drupal 6 paths to the new site paths.

Community contributions: 

In order to get MSK’s site launched in Drupal 8 beta, we needed to build a lot of the missing functionality that was not part of Drupal 8 core yet. As a result, we were able to significantly contribute to the Drupal 8 full release! Below are some key contributions to the effort:

  • We contributed 60+ patches to Drupal 8 to make sure MSK was launching on a secure and reliable platform.
  • We maintained the Head 2 Head module for supporting an unofficial beta-to-beta upgrade path until core was able to support this, contributing 44 commits. This helped push forward an upgrade path in core, which was one of the last critical blockers to Drupal 8's release.
  • We released the YAML Form contrib module as an alternative to Webform, which was not available for Drupal 8, and targets a different audience. It is now being incorporated into the webform module.
  • We also helped port the Memcache module to Drupal 8.
Project team: 

Tobby Hagler
Jonathan Hedstrom
Brad Wade
Molly Byrnes
Kira Cypers
Nicole Lind
Jacob Rockowitz
Steven merrill
Austin Prohl
Brian Borncamp

Image of MSK website on laptop
Screenshot of MSK site features
A peek at MSK front end integration libraries
A bulleted list of front end integration descriptions