Selecting a content management system (CMS) for your health care organization can have deep consequences—for better or for worse.
The platform you choose can either help or hinder your internal team’s efficiency. Its ability to integrate can make or break your other marketing technology investments. Ultimately, the features and functionality it offers have a profound impact on the experience visitors have on your site.
Core capabilities, such as a provider directory, conversion opportunities in the form of online forms, bill payment and appointment scheduling, are the most important features of health care websites. Up-and-coming capabilities—such as chatbots, mobile apps and Alexa interactivity—are not currently important components of health care digital experiences.
Let’s review some of the must-have features that are the foundation of impressive digital experiences in health care, looking deeply at capabilities as well as the administrative features that make doing the work easier:
1. Intuitive content editor
How important a content editor is to your team depends on the skill sets of your individual team members, as well as how many different teams will be adding content. Choosing an easy-to-use content editor makes it stress-free for any content administrator—from novice to expert—to find, author, edit, preview and publish web pages. Be sure your solution allows you to easily create pages on the fly without extensive HTML knowledge.
2. Strong workflow features
Governance is key to a successful CMS platform. Content should be reviewed for accuracy, and organizational protocols have to be respected in terms of reviews, approvals and change notifications. Be sure to find a CMS that offers sophisticated workflow management and permissions that allow you to share the work of creating quality content while maintaining control over brand standards.
3. Robust provider directory
A provider directory was the No. 1 feature listed in terms of importance in the Healthcare Digital Marketing Trends Survey. According to McKinsey & Co. , 84% of health consumers view digital solutions as the most effective way to search for a doctor. If you can select a CMS that already has a built-in provider directory with all the necessary features, you’ll be one step ahead. If not, you’ll want to ensure you are integrating with, or building from scratch, a sophisticated provider directory.
Regardless of whether it’s built-in or being built, be sure your provider directory integrates with your credentialing system, offers provider search, allows you to build engaging provider profiles that display insurance accepted and other important details consumers use in making decisions.
4. Other health care-specific modules and directories
Although provider directories top the list of must-have features and functionality, a good web experience helps consumers find the content they need regardless of how they start searching. That’s why other core directories such as locations, services and calendar and events are also important. Outside of directories, be sure your CMS solution offers other modules and functionality, such as wait time indicators and clinical trials.
5. Dynamic content and personalized experiences
Creating customized experiences is a popular trend among health care marketers, but personalization on the web still lags behind email and print as an area in which marketers are actively investing. Although only a small percentage of respondents are personalizing content—predominantly around geography-based personalization—those that are doing so are finding it successful.
As you evaluate solutions, you’ll want to ensure they will support your needs if you decide to offer personalization based on geography or user behavior. What’s most important is that your CMS offers a way to put site visitors on a path to a conversion point (schedule an appointment, etc.) through the use of dynamic content.
6. Flexibility and scalability
The makeup of your organization today might look a lot different in the future, with mergers and acquisitions on the rise. Health care mergers and acquisitions had a record year in 2018, up 14.4% from 2017, which was also a record year.
Today’s health care marketers need a platform that will accommodate the acquisition of a new clinic or hospital on the fly. From easily adding new doctors to the provider directory to folding new facilities into the location directory and managing multiple sites under one platform with one login, make sure your CMS is scalable and offers multisite support.
7. High-level security
Health care organizations are held to high standards when it comes to protecting personal health information. Make sure the solutions you are evaluating incorporate high-level security that controls access to content, uses a role-based security model, automatically encrypts sensitive information and meets HIPAA compliance standards.
Forms are another important aspect to consider when looking at your CMS solutions. They are the crucial conversion point for site visitors who’d like to engage with your organization. Make sure your CMS offers a way for you to easily create, manage and deploy online forms and enable workflows that follow HIPAA-compliant submissions best practices.
Your website is only one piece of an ever-evolving technology stack that usually includes a customer relationship management (CRM) system, e-commerce solution and marketing automation or email platform—all of which are big investments for your organization. Make sure your potential solution integrates with your existing technology stack to ensure you can deliver the best possible experience on your site and share data between systems.
9. Built-in SEO
Some optimization efforts are on-page—how you develop content to align with searchers’ queries, for example. But some of it is technical and comes down to how your CMS is built. If you’re not careful, the platform you choose could hold you back. Look for a solution that aids your efforts with built-in search engine optimization (SEO) functionality such as Schema.org physician and location markup, canonical URLs and metadata. Just the way your site is coded affects page speed—a ranking indicator—so choose a CMS that is thoughtful about SEO.
10. Ivolving platform
Too often after a large investment, a new platform can quickly become outdated. Be sure to invest in a system that is robustly supported, especially in this fast-moving digital world where small changes to a Google algorithm can have a big impact on your rankings if your platform doesn’t comply.
Heather Stanley is a Marketing Director at Geonetric. The original version of this post appeared here.