Children's Hospital of Philadelphia | Vaccine Education Center
Zivtech designed and built an award-winning mobile app to promote accurate vaccine information
The Vaccine Education Center (VEC) of the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia launched the Vaccines on the Go app in 2013 to advance public knowledge about vaccination. With the COVID-19 pandemic making vaccines a burning topic — and with misinformation flooding the internet — the VEC decided in 2020 to redesign the app and invest significantly in promoting it.
The VEC had already worked with Zivtech on several other projects. Thanks to our strong track record, they selected us to help them with this new initiative. The result was a refurbished app that improved user engagement and won a Communicator Award.
The VEC was launched in October 2000 to provide accurate, comprehensive, and up-to-date information about vaccines and the diseases they prevent. The Center produces materials across a variety of media to dispel some of the common misconceptions and misinformation surrounding vaccines. Instead, they provide the facts about each vaccine: how it is made, how it works, who recommends it, whether it is safe, and when it should be given.
Improving engagement to reach program goals
The original Vaccines on the Go app was static — both in terms of its software architecture and user experience. Because of the app’s design, it was difficult for writers at the VEC to publish new material in the app. Likewise, the development team needed to work separately on the iOS and Android versions, which further slowed down updates. The app was missing the potential to take full advantage of new resources being created by the VEC.
On the design side, there was also room to improve the clarity of presentation. For example, doctors used the app to present information to patients, yet it did not display well on a larger iPad screen — which would otherwise be perfect for a consultation room environment.
Besides cosmetic issues, the app lacked features such as push notifications that could have kept users engaged (and educated!) over a longer period of time — not just during vaccination seasons.
New frameworks and features
Zivtech consulted with the VEC to plot out and prioritize improvements to the app.
It was clear from the content team and developer experience that an architecture overhaul was required. Zivtech proposed using a Drupal backend and a React Native frontend. The Drupal CMS allowed VEC writers and editors to manage, create and publish content in the app themselves, making it easier to update materials and add new information. The React Native framework enabled simultaneous iOS and Android development, allowing for app updates to be released more frequently.
The Zivtech team also addressed UX issues. We developed the app with special care toward iPad compatibility to better equip physicians and health professionals as they communicated vaccine information to their patients. We also designed a number of graphics and data visualizations to accompany the update — for example, contagiousness charts to show how certain illnesses spread, and how likely one is to contract them, as well as timelines to illustrate the lengths and phases of illnesses.
To keep users engaged outside of vaccination seasons, Zivtech equipped the app with new features — such as the “Notes” and “Ask the VEC” sections — and incorporated push notifications to provide alerts on the publication of new content. As part of the redesign, the app’s branding was also brought in line with that of the VEC’s parent, the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia.
An award-winning app for patients and physicians
The new Vaccines on the Go app significantly improved on the original in terms of presentation, navigation, and features. The architecture overhaul also gave the VEC more opportunities to keep users engaged while updating the app with new content. As a result, it received a Communicator Award, as well as an honorable mention from the PRNews Digital Awards.
The VEC now possessed a new, more effective mobile medium to carry out their communication mission.
VEC Co-Director Charlotte A. Moser commented: “The Zivtech team has been integral to the success of several Vaccine Education Center website and mobile app projects. Their customer service is beyond reproach, and their understanding of and support for our overarching program goals makes working together seamless. We particularly appreciate their willingness to provide multiple solution options — along with estimates of the relative time and expense for each — allowing us to make informed choices within the constraints that come with any project.”
Today, Zivtech continues to provide support and maintenance for the app, working closely with the VEC to support them in educating the public on the importance of vaccines.