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The Front Line
The Front Line: Charles D. Blanke, MD, SWOG Chair

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Website Gets an Overhaul, With Kickoff in Chicago

Sep 18, 2015 - I know you likely have a love-hate relationship with SWOG's website. To find a member, become a member, look up a protocol, find a publication -- or just read the latest issue of this blog -- you go to SWOG.org ... although I know many of you don't like to. Our website is cluttered and clunky. It was last redesigned in 2005, when George W. Bush was sworn in for a second term, Saddam Hussein went on trial, Brad and Jennifer divorced, and cancer -- for the first time -- surpassed heart disease as the No. 1 killer in the U.S.

I am now (and finally) pleased to report that a SWOG.org redesign is underway. Thanks to funding from The Hope Foundation, we just last week selected a firm to conduct a user needs assessment to determine who's using the site, how they're using the site, and -- most importantly -- how they'd like to use the site. A team from the firm will be in Chicago at the Fall 2015 Group Meeting, conducting interviews and running focus groups of researchers, advocates, and staff. They'll also be on hand with iPads, asking attendees to take an online survey. If you'd like to take a survey, or have suggestions for the website, contact our new communications manager, Wendy Lawton, at lawtonw@ohsu.edu. ASAP, please!

Assessment results will inform the blueprint for the new SWOG.org, and you can look for it before the close of 2016.

The website redesign is part of a larger focus on communication and public engagement at SWOG. In Chicago, the Board of Governors will vote on creation of a new Digital Engagement Committee made up of patients, researchers, and staff, including representatives of The Hope Foundation. The committee would be a permanent one, akin to the Patient Advocacy Committee or the Adolescent and Young Adult Committee, and be charged with creating and overseeing the implementation of a strategic plan for our website, social media, online publications, and email, video, and other digital engagement tools.

It's important to note how far we've come. SWOG is active on Twitter -- we surpassed 1,000 tweets last month -- and this blog now reaches over 10,000 email boxes. For this, we can largely thank our outgoing communications manager, Frank DeSanto, and our Social Media Working Group, particularly members Dr. Craig Nichols, Dr. Michael Fisch, and Dr. Mark Lewis.

We need them, and other forward-thinking SWOG members who can help us use social media and the Internet to better meet our mission -- which of course is effectively conducting oncology research. At no other time have we, as cancer researchers, had such fast and direct access to millions of patients. We can and will use modern communications tools to educate them about -- and enroll them in -- our trials. The Internet is the ultimate accrual enhancement tool, and we're striving to build something great with it.


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