About this site

A website designed for patients and caregivers

After 11 years of service, Island Health has replaced www.viha.ca with a new website at www.islandhealth.ca. Built using open-source technology the site provides:

  • a scalable, open-source framework that allows the site to grow with changing needs
  • content that is more accessible to people with disabilities
  • a responsive design based on the context of various screen sizes and devices
  • a roadmap to guide the project and its continuous improvement

Created with patient advisors

This site would not be the same without ongoing consultation with our patient advisory council and volunteer usability testers.

Patient engagement roadmap

At the beginning of this website redesign project, we created a patient engagement roadmap that would guide the service design by showing how and where we engaged with patients.

In addition to our regular meetings with our patient advisory council, this included interviews with patients and front line staff, usability testing with patients and representatives with First Nation communities, and accessibility testing.

Patient Engagement Roadmap

Personas and design thinking

We also created personas to guide design decisions. Personas are a best practice example of how design can improve the way Island Health delivers health care services.

Read a full description of Island Health's website design personas, spectra and rationale.

Example design persona—Patient needs
Island Health design persona - patient needs
Example design persona—Patient journey map
Island Health design persona - patient journey map


The site is programmed to be read and understood by screen readers, braille readers, and other assistive technology devices. Thanks to the Canadian National Institute for the Blind (CNIB) for additional testing.

Patient-focused website

Location, location, location

This website has over 1,400 pages of patient-focused content. We’ve done our best to ensure all of our health topics, services, and locations are easy for you to find and discover.

Meeting patients where they are

Island Heath’s service region is vast. And let’s face it, not everything is about Victoria! With that in mind, we created a website information architecture that allows you to filter content based on your location. There are a few ways this can happen.


The first is geolocation. That’s a fancy way of saying we borrowed a concept from businesses with stores at more than one location. Think of IKEA or Home Hardware. When you visit those websites you can choose to display information relating to your closest store or the store you plan to visit. We’re doing the same thing.

Location-based services

When you first visit the site you might have noticed a pop-up message asking if you would share your location with us based on the city, First Nation, or Metis Charter community closest to you.

When you accept this offer, the site remembers your selection and filters content to match your approximate location wherever relevant. This is similar to how mobile phones provide local information depending on where you are.

For example, if you live near and select Gwa’Sala-Nakwaxda’xw (gwa-sal-a nawk-wa-dawk), then whenever you visit a page describing health topics or our services, the the site will automatically filter service locations relevant to your region. In this case, services available in the northwest area of Vancouver Island will show first and those farthest away will show up last.

Select your region

If you didn’t select the automatic location based service, no problem: you can still control the content by selecting your location as needed.

On health topic and service pages, look for a link called “Change your map reference…” Selecting the link displays a drop down list of regions. After your pick a location, the site remembers your selection as your browse content. You can change your selection at any time.

Example—Change your map reference
Change your map location

Island Health region map

For those of you who like maps (as much as we do!), we’ve also provided a map showing Island Health’s four main service regions. You can scroll over map to see which region you are in, or you can scroll over the list. Thinking about moving to a particular area? Check out the Your Region section to see the types of locations, services and news in that area.

Map view
Island Health Regions
Example region list showing Metis Community filter
Island Health Region List

Health site maps

Did we mention we like maps? On every location page, we have included a Google map for each location. If you are preparing for a hospital stay or visit, or if you are already on your way here, you can click on the map for directions.

Parking maps

While we don’t have parking maps for all of our locations (yet), when we do, we have included a link to them right by the Google map.


Island Health’s public website was made possible with the help of many organizations and individuals.

  • Canadian National Institute for the Blind
  • Canbraille
  • OpenRoad Communications
  • Patient Voices Network

Public Website Redesign Patient Advisory Council aka the PWR PAC


Communications, Planning & Partnerships