Ilustration of a healthcare content management systemIf your healthcare organization is making changes to your website or looking to improve the digital patient experience, few decisions matter more than choosing the right health content management system (CMS).

A CMS is a software solution that stores digital content. Your website pages, photos, features and workflows are all part of your web CMS. And, while all CMS are editable and most are intuitive, a healthcare content management system is unique. It deserves special consideration for a few reasons.

For example, a healthcare organization’s website requires features that other organizations do not, such as a provider directory and HIPAA-compliant data protection. Your CMS will also influence a user’s website experience, which could mean the difference between a potential patient filling out an appointment request, or navigating to another provider’s site.

If you’ve started your research, you already know that there’s no shortage of proprietary healthcare content management system solutions. And it may be difficult to determine which one is right for you.

Here are 12 questions to ask yourself when evaluating a CMS to make an informed decision about which healthcare content management system matches your organization’s needs.

1. Is it user-friendly?

Does the CMS require advanced technical knowledge or the ability to read HTML? If so, best to keep looking.

Individuals with various experience levels will likely be using your CMS to write, edit and publish pages. And, you’ll want to be able to do that quickly. A health content management system should offer an intuitive interface and content editor. These tools should allow you to create pages, upload assets, preview user experience and make changes without involving your IT team.

Other editing features, such as built-in spellcheck, can help with usability and rapid implementation.

You’ll also want to consider your team’s workflow processes and how easily the CMS lets stakeholders review, edit and approve content. Some CMS offer built-in workflows and tracking, which can streamline these tasks for you.

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2. Will your patients’ data be protected?

Medical content management requires specific safeguards to stay HIPAA-compliant and protect patient privacy. Make sure your CMS comes with the encryption and security you need. This may include:

  • HIPAA-compliant forms and workflows
  • Monitoring for third-party intrusion
  • User roles and permissions that prevent unauthorized individuals from accessing your CMS

When it comes to security and HIPAA compliance, make sure to loop in HIPAA experts at your organization. Team members from IT, patient safety and legal can offer advice and let you know if a certain CMS meets HIPAA and security standards.

3. Is it responsive?

With more users accessing websites on mobile devices, you’ll want to make sure your website has a mobile-first and responsive design. Look for a CMS that automatically adjusts content to fit desktop, tablet and mobile screens. Doing so will help your team streamline content and create the best possible experience for your website visitors.

4. Is it optimized for SEO?

A health content management system with built-in search engine optimization (SEO) can mean the difference between your organization being ranked first in search results and ending up buried on page 10.

Look for a CMS that provides fields for (or even generates) metadata, title tags and keywords. And make sure you brush up on writing for SEO before you implement a new CMS so that you can make the most of these features.

Clunky and inefficient coding on the back-end of your site can also slow down page speed, which impacts search ratings, so check that quality of your CMS, too.

5. Is it scalable?

As your organization grows, you’ll want your website to grow with you. Choose a CMS that will let you adapt as your organization acquires new facilities, undergoes mergers, adds new providers or combines websites. A reliable CMS will allow you to host multiple sites.

Additionally, think about other digital assets or technology your organization might use in the future. Will your CMS help support:

  • Mobile apps
  • Voice-command technology
  • Online scheduling
  • Telehealth visits
  • Chatbots

Make sure your CMS matches your needs now and for every step along the way.

6. Is it patient-friendly?

Your website may be the first experience a patient has with your healthcare organization — don’t let it be the last!

Make sure your CMS offers design themes and elements that allow patients and prospects to find what they need easily. An intuitive interface and seamless user experience (UX) are a must.

Look for embedded search fields, a clear navigation menu, and easy-to-find form fills and contact info. A CMS that provides a site map can make it easier for a site visitor to find your pages and for you to keep track of them.

7. What plug-ins does it offer?

Does your website need online bill pay? An appointment scheduler? Forms? Healthcare websites aren’t solely written content. Sometimes you’ll need important plug-ins that display and organize information or patient tools. And, if so, you’ll want to make sure your CMS includes them so you don’t need to create them from scratch.

For example, an online provider directory is one of the main entry points for new patients, which makes it a must-have for a hospital or health system website. When choosing the CMS you’ll use to build your website and directory, consider what you want to include on the doctor bio pages, such as:

  • Accepted insurance
  • Physician credentials
  • Photos
  • Ratings
  • Patient reviews

Other features or plug-ins you might want to consider for your website are:

  • Facility locations
  • Services and specialties
  • Wait-time indicators
  • Events calendar

8. Does it have a digital asset manager (DAM)?

A useful DAM will store and organize your asset files — such as images, videos and media. This can be a valuable tool for managing your photo library, educational videos and more. A DAM system can make your assets easier to find and implement across your website while maintaining brand standards and security.

9. What measurement tools does it offer?

Data and reporting can help you measure traffic to your site and determine the success of your content. Solid analytics will tell you who is coming to your site, what they are looking for and when they are leaving. All this data can help inform what you need to change or optimize for better results.

Find out if your new CMS offers traffic reports and what other measurement tools come with it. Depending on the size of your organization, these measurement tools may turn out to be your go-to source for analytics and your number one method for monitoring and optimizing web traffic and conversions.

If a CMS doesn’t offer its own analytics, it may integrate with external measurement tools like Google Analytics. If this is your preferred system, choosing a CMS that allows for seamless integration may save you a lot of time. And, it can help answer the next question, which is…

10. Does it integrate with other systems?

What Customer Relationship Management (CRM) system do you have in place? Do you have digitized data, records, billing information or electronic health records that will need to interface with your new website? Make sure to check whether your new CMS aligns with pre-existing or developing systems to avoid duplicating work.

11. Is support available?

You’ll likely have questions when implementing and working in a new CMS. To avoid frustration and overburdening your IT team, find out what support solutions your new CMS offers. Are there onboarding trainings, concierge service or ongoing 24/7 support? Determining ahead of time what’s available and what you’re likely to need can make for a more seamless experience when switching to a new healthcare content management system.

12. Can you personalize content?

Some CMS platforms offer capabilities for dynamic content that’s based on a user’s location or behavior. For example, if a visitor is searching for a specific service, they’ll see relevant providers and events based on that search. Or certain locations may populate based on the user’s location.

In some cases, the CMS can serve up content based on user actions — a blog post on breastfeeding may pop up after the user clicks on an article about new parent classes.

Dynamic content in your CMS helps make sure users get the right information at the right time. Ultimately, it helps your content build better relationships with potential patients and referring providers.

Choosing a new CMS comes with many questions and considerations. It may seem overwhelming at first, but thinking through these requirements and aligning them with your content goals can help you make a decision and take the plunge.

Ready to overhaul your digital patient experience? The healthcare writers and content strategists at WriterGirl can help you evaluate your user experience, streamline your content and create a healthcare website that converts. Contact us to get started today.