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Rebuilding digital healthcare channels with patient experience at heart


Aava Medical Centre is a full-service, family-owned Finnish company with over 1100 professionals and a history going back 50 years. Pikkujätti Medical Centre for Children and Youth is Aava’s sister company.


In renewing Aava’s and Pikkujätti’s online booking services, Aava’s digital, and marketing teams recognised the need to bring the websites to a new level of customer experience. Our team at Columbia Road was delighted to jump on board to renew the main channels leading to booking appointments: and

The work included setting up business goals and KPIs, a technology platform change, new designs with better call-to-actions to appointment bookings, improved readability and mobile usability, a new web analytics setup, and a significant content update by Aava’s team.

Aava’s website is practically an ecommerce store for our appointment booking. We have hundreds of pages describing our service offering, nearly a thousand for our doctors and other specialists, complex integrations to our other systems like appointment booking, and so on. I’m happy and proud of how the website turned out: it’s quick, SEO and mobile-friendly and serves our customers in the best possible way. And the pages are airy and elegant!

Pauli Waroma, Head of Marketing and Communications, Aava Medical Centre and Pikkujätti Medical Centre for Children and Youth

Goal 1: Better customer experience leading to more sales

The websites had three main goals. First, they needed to function as a digital storefront and the main driver for sales for both Aava and Pikkujätti. In this case, driving more sales meant more users would enter the appointment booking flow from the website, and the conversion rate of this flow would improve. Additionally, the website needed to function as a lead generator for new potential occupational healthcare customers.

To accomplish this, we focused on making the website easy to use, creating a seamless mobile experience for all our primary user flows: customers who are looking to book an appointment directly, customers who want more information about Aava and Pikkujätti’s services and experts, and companies who are interested in Aava’s occupational healthcare services and other value-adding services.

Goal 2: Easy-to-use landing pages that engage and convert

Our second goal was to create landing page templates that reflect the Aava brand, offer content that the users need and direct them to take concrete next steps. We also wanted to make it easy for content creators to create these different landing pages. Aava’s and Pikkujätti’s websites provide information for many target groups, such as customers, employees, recruitment candidates and media.

The page types vary from marketing landing pages to service descriptions and job ads. Many stakeholders from different teams work with content creation: in addition to the marketing and communications team, people working in business, sales and recruitment need also to be able to create, edit and publish pages easily.

Goal 3: Better in-house control

Our final goal was related to website maintenance and continuous development. Aava’s in-house team is responsible for all Aava’s digital channels, and in addition to the websites, these include, for example, online booking and self-service channels. To ensure that Aava’s overall digital experience for customers would stay consistent and high-quality, it was important for Aava’s digital team to be able to own the channel and straightforwardly do maintenance and development with no vendor lock-ins and other unnecessary barriers. The website admin dashboard needed to also be easy for both internal users as well as partners.

Our approach

Business goals

We started the website renewal by listing and prioritising business goals for the websites together with Aava’s key stakeholders from business, sales, IT and the marketing and communication teams. In setting the business goals for the websites, we used the Objectives and Key Results (OKR) model.

Examples of business goals included more new customers, more bookings by the customers, decreased bounce rate, and more business leads to occupational health care services. Later on, during the website development, we implemented a new web analytics setup for both websites that directly reflected these objectives and key results.

Design process

We started the design process by working on the Core Model together in workshops. The Core Model is a well-known design model focusing on core tasks that users need to accomplish, combined with the company's main business objectives. For each page template, we outlined what Aava’s goals as a business are and what the main user tasks are.

Further, we listed the possible main user paths, i.e. ways in which people might find a page of this particular page template. After this, we determined the core content, i.e. the main modules and elements each page template needs. Finally, we set forward user paths. This means that, for each page template, we defined where we wanted to send the users next.

Choosing tech stack and hosting

One key factor when determining the website platform was that Aava wanted to eliminate significant monthly spending occurring with the earlier website platforms to keep the status quo and make routine updates.

It was critical that Aava’s in-house digital team would have full control of the website to do maintenance and basic upgrades themselves instead of using external vendors. It was also important to choose the technology so that when there would be a need for an external development vendor or an in-house developer to develop the website, the needed skills would be readily available on the market.

In addition, the platform needed built-in or easily available tools for content creators, marketers and analysts working on content, SEO and web analytics. A further factor in the decision-making process was that Aava wanted a full-service, managed cloud platform hosting for the websites instead of using their own data centre.

WordPress was chosen as the platform for the project, as it met these requirements. Many essential technical upgrades and maintenance can be done directly in the interface without the need to touch the code. Security settings such as 2FA, content security policy and country blocking can all also be managed with no-code plugins.

The same applies to web analytics and SEO: WordPress has many necessary SEO functionalities, either built-in or easily available via ready-made plugins. For example, Google Tag Manager can be easily set up via a plugin; analysts and growth marketers can set it up and use it to implement web analytics and various user testing tools without needing the help of a developer.

Also, both websites needed a multi-language setup. WordPress offers many ways to implement this so that content creators and partners can update the language versions and general language translations directly in the interface. WordPress was also seen as a good website platform for the kind of content and website structure we needed: the number of page templates was quite limited, the content length was fairly predictable, and there was little need for dynamic content or custom widgets.

Finally, there are many managed, cloud-based hosting solutions available for WordPress, and many of these do routine updates automatically - an important factor in decision-making right from the start. For and, we chose WP Engine, a company that focuses on managed WordPress hosting.

With the new website, we have been able to achieve our goal of focusing on customer experience: users convert to appointment booking significantly better than before, and site performance on desktop and mobile is top-notch on today’s standards. For us, it’s also important that hosting and development costs are significantly lower than before, and the sites are more manageable for us.

Juha Hotti, Head of Customer Channels, Aava Medical Centre and Pikkujätti Medical Centre for Children and Youth

The deliverables

  • Listing and prioritising business goals and KPIs with Aava’s key stakeholders
  • Facilitating workshops on user tasks and aligning these with business objectives
  • Choosing a hosting provider which enabled partially automated maintenance of the websites
  • Building the websites, including multiple custom content types to show key data such as doctors, medical centres and medical services in a structured way
  • Creating custom themes to have full control over layout and enabling a more modular approach for visualising the content types and call-to-action blocks
  • Custom backend integrations for real-time updates of important information such as medical practitioners and centres, as well as available appointment
  • Product Owner role
  • Documenting and training WordPress for content creators
  • Optimisation for mobile devices
  • Full web analytics setup


Both websites were launched in June 2022. The first months since the launch have significantly improved many key metrics listed in our original Objectives and Key Results. Aava’s team has been extremely happy about the outcome.

One of our objectives for was that a larger proportion of website visits would lead to the user starting appointment booking. This metric has improved by nearly 30%. Another example of our objectives was decreased bounce rate. Bounce rate is the percentage of single-page website sessions divided by all sessions. A decreased bounce rate often suggests that more and more people discover content that is useful or inspiring to them. The bounce rate has also improved significantly for various content types, most significantly on the front page, where the improvement is more than 70%. Finally, according to Google’s page experience report, 99.9% of pages have the best-in-class mobile experience.

Key figures for

Screenshot 2022-10-18 at 11.14.56


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