Magazine Article | March 22, 2007

Handle Web Content With Ease

Source: Field Technologies Magazine

A content management platform allows a hospital and affiliated medical school to more easily manage and add content to thousands of Web pages.

Integrated Solutions, April 2007

It goes without saying that the more comprehensive and dynamic a Web site is, the greater that site's potential to attract visitors and fulfill its primary objectives. However, the volume of Web content management needed to maximize this potential can be daunting. For a hospital Web site, the content must include multimedia and interactive materials that are delivered through podcasting and vodcasting, e-newsletters, physician and patient portals, and various disease management tools. That's what led NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital and Weill Cornell Medical College in New York City to implement a Web content management solution, according to Virgil Wong, head of Web design and development for both institutions.

Wong and his colleagues had quite a lot of Web work on their plates before seeking a new remedy for the institution's content management needs. "We were managing more than 65,000 Web pages for both Weill Cornell Medical College and NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital — too many to handle without more sophisticated technological solutions," Wong says. "Additionally, our home-grown applications had been custom-built to give us extensive control over specific content categories. These systems required either further development or full migration into an enterprise-level content management system. We decided on the latter option."

The team devoted six months to evaluate more than 100 different open-source and commercial products, comparing them point-by-point against a long list of criteria. The Content Server platform from FatWire Software was eventually identified as the best fit for NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital and Weill Cornell Medical College. Element115, a healthcare systems integrator and solutions provider based in Chicago, was engaged to help customize the system. As part of the project, Element115 also deployed eHealth Accelerator, a solution for medical institutions it had developed in conjunction with FatWire with input from Greystone.Net. Headquartered in Atlanta, the latter is a provider of Internet consulting, health information content, and related services to the healthcare industry.

NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital's Web site, — the first of the institution's Web sites to be configured and managed using the new technology — was launched on Jan. 9, 2007. Plans call for rolling out the Weill Cornell Medical College Web site — as well as additional service line, department, division, and center Web sites for both the hospital and the college — throughout the remainder of this year, Wong reports. The system currently generates static pages for publication on the Web server each night, but a migration to dynamic real-time publishing is on the agenda in the near future.

With the solution in place, Wong says, developing and managing Web pages has become a faster, more efficient process. Content may be created using Microsoft Word or other familiar tools and then easily put into a managed workflow environment via any standard Web browser. An interface with eHealth Accelerator permits individuals generating content to draw from a number of prebuilt modules resident in the software — among them clinical services, events, classes, patient and visitor information, physician profiles, clinical trials, health library, appointment request, news, newsletter subscription, and site search. An editor feature of the content management application lets users edit content from within the context of public design layout of the site.

Additionally, enterprise-class workflow is applied to all managed content, leveraging a common repository and library services. Content is managed in a multilevel hierarchy, making it easier for users across the organization to contribute and manage a wide range of content, including unstructured content, documents, and rich digital media assets — such as video interviews with patients and physicians, interactive animations explaining medical conditions and procedures, and online quizzes and health assessments.

The technology also enhances the visitor experience and supports the hospital's reputation as a center of excellence. It does this by delivering content-specific Web pages — pages where related content appears on each page according to a designated taxonomy mapping. This stems from the fact that the content management application is built natively on J2EE application servers, including BEA, IBM, Sun, and JBoss, and leverages the J2EE development model and Java standards, like the JSR 168 specification for portal integration.

"The 'smart content feature' on has been particularly effective," Wong states.  "A prospective patient who is looking for services in cardiology, for example, can easily access specific physicians, health information, news, clinical trials, and educational animations as well. Without any marketing, the 'Request an Appointment Online' feature has generated over 134 referrals in the first full month alone, and we expect even higher utilization when we launch more customized online services with our upcoming patient portal. Our objective is to combine new technologies with outstanding Web design and content to provide the best possible patient care experience."