Posted: January 2, 2018

With all the different channels used by organizations to connect with audiences, healthcare marketers need to think strategically about how best to deliver personalized and contextual content. They need a healthcare content management system (CMS) that supports back-end content management capabilities while ensuring they can easily update and create new front-end delivery formats (aka designs) without having to re-implement the back-end CMS each time.

That’s where decoupled CMS architecture, or “headless CMS,” comes in.

What is decoupled CMS architecture?
Decoupled architecture is a type of computing architecture that enables computing components or layers to execute independently while still interfacing with each other. The decoupled CMS setup implements a buffer to separate the system’s memory access and instruction cycle processes from execution-stage processes.

Still with me?
Basically the content infrastructure (where you host assets and where the code magic happens) stays in the back room, with limited need for the IT team’s continued management. The content team, meanwhile, handles authoring, editing, and presentation (where and how the content is displayed – say a large waiting room monitor vs. a mobile screen). The connection between the front and back ends is still there, but it’s not as rigid as it is with traditional CMS architecture.

decoupled-architecture-graph

Source: Hackernoon

This decoupled CMS setup enables healthcare marketing to work independently of IT, greatly improving the speed of content production and publication. Instead of relying on IT to launch personalized campaigns, landing pages, micro sites, etc. marketers can develop and roll out projects from a streamlined, intuitive platform.

Content can be translated into any number of file formats, meaning there’s no limit to the number of content delivery platforms that marketing professionals can use – whether that’s a smartwatch or a desktop display. Campaigns can be easily coordinated across channels and marketing groups. With the rising relevance of the internet of things (IoT), this ability is more important than ever.

Advantages of decoupled CMS

  • True interactivity: By using your healthcare website to power fully functional in-browser applications, decoupled CMS architecture builds true interactive experiences. The back-end becomes the system of record and “state machine,” but back-and-forth interaction happens real-time in the browser.
  • Agile content updates: You can add or update content types in the back-end without affecting the front-end website.
  • Performance: Because you don’t have the overhead of the CMS application on every web server, delivery speed improves and you can easily scale your website and microsites using commodity hardware. Additionally, there’s potential for streamlining the front-end, which can result an overall faster site. Site speed can impact conversion, search ranking, and advertising costs.
  • Multi-site management: You can create your content once and publish anywhere — on multiple websites using different servers and technology for different sites.
  • Flexible deployment: You can deploy your content anywhere — to a website on another server in your environment, to a cloud-based environment, or a content delivery network.
  • Security: A firewall can be placed between the two environments to better protect your networks and ensure others can’t access your content until it’s published.
  • Ease of upgrades: Software upgrades only affect the CMS application, so your live website continues running during implementation.
  • Availability: If the back-end CMS software goes down or needs maintenance, your live website continues to operate.

Future-proofing your CMS
If you’ve ever lived through your organization switching CMS platforms, you know it’s a time-consuming venture to implement the new system, but most painful part can be the effort to migrate content. For some organizations, this means that content migration never happens. And if your archives are never moved over, valuable and useful content is lost to viewers and future use.

Migrating content is a big problem with switching platforms. Decoupling, however, gives you greater freedom with your publishing, allowing you to switch front-end platforms but avoid the painful migration process. And if your CMS technology comes with the option of design services or front-end design templates for you to use, the transition can be even smoother.

This is perhaps the biggest benefit of decoupled architecture: It allows you to create, manage, and publish content, no matter the channel preferences of your consumers now or in the future, no matter the device or display.

Want to learn more about decoupled CMS solutions, specifically for healthcare’s use? Download our white paper, Choosing the Best CMS for Healthcare.