It's often said that, "the only constant is change,” and embracing that change is certainly good career advice for healthcare IT professionals in 2018. Once again, we're moving into an entirely new era of information: The era of content-driven healthcare.

What used to be a straightforward environment of blog posts and websites has evolved into an interactive, consumer-driven modality of its own. The scope of that shift is particular to the healthcare vertical — a point that's critical for any IT leader to understand, and not just on a surface level. Healthcare content management is changing the industry at such a fundamental level that even core IT concerns are being morphed right along with it.

Marketing and IT Have Merged
Two powerful waves have combined to create the tsunami we call consumerism which is reshaping the healthcare landscape. The first is the exponential curve of digital innovation. The second is the attempt to offset the rising cost of healthcare by shifting more of the expense to consumers. As a result, we live in a time where economic survival for a health system depends on digitally-delivered preventative tips, post-op instructions, pricing transparency, and the ability to consume and leverage patient-generated health data. Today, healthcare IS information, and the vast majority of that information exists under the umbrella we call “content."

Other industries deal with content too, but nowhere else does the interpretation and application of content play such a pivotal role in outcomes and shaping a personalized consumer experience. That's why healthcare content governance sits in a league of its own. It deals with sophisticated content relationships in some of the most complex systems created by man. Martech systems like CRM and marketing automation, as well as content management systems (CMS), drive those relationships and need IT support to ensure efficiency and optimal outcomes.

The Evolving World of Healthcare Compliance
As if responding to consumer expectations isn't complicated enough, healthcare faces another unique challenge. From HITECH to HIPAA and individual state regulations, healthcare IT leadership functions in one of the most regulated industries out there. That means that healthcare GRC (governance, risk, and compliance) strategies have to be up to the task (as HIMSS has touched on in the past.)

Risk assessments and information assets inventory must now include the same mobile applications, medical devices, and services that integrate on the back-end of your CMS. The cross-channel consumer experience that your marketing team is pushing for opens up compliance nightmares when consumers are sharing personal information with you and possibly even third-party vendors.

Generic, industry-agnostic CMS weren't built for the complexities of healthcare and relying on one can create an unnecessary compliance disaster overnight

Security That Requires Sophistication
It's tempting to think that a CMS that fits other industries with high compliance standards (finance for example) might work well in healthcare, but that's risky.

Healthcare has spent years headlining data breach lists and now finds itself fending off threat vectors including ransom- and cause-driven DDoS attacks as well as classics like phishing attacks. Increasingly personalized and targeted content that requires rich behavior data only opens your organization up to more opportunity for creative criminals.

Industry-agnostic CMS tend to be transaction-centered and cap out at features like enhanced security, increased support, and content centralization. For healthcare, that's just covering the basics.

A healthcare CMS also needs to be able to handle what the consumer experience looks like on the ground — appointment requests, event registrations, sophisticated physician directory listings, provider ratings, medical record requests, and the ability to run at a speed and scale that keeps up with the 24/7 nature of healthcare consumption all while minding PHI and HIPAA compliance. When you layer on patient portals, newsletter subscriptions, and patient-generated data, you're left with a security environment that requires industry-specific solutions.

The Importance of Vendor Partnerships
Few of your vendor partnerships are truly vertical-agnostic, and your standards shouldn't be any lower when it comes to your CMS choice. Your teams have an amazing opportunity to build strategic partnerships with healthcare-focused CMS vendors who know how to leverage all of your IT capabilities and provide you with a content management tool that smooths competing priorities between IT and healthcare marketing departments.

The best place to start is with a comprehensive understanding of what a healthcare-native CMS can offer an organization like yours. This white paper will get you caught up. You should also consider checking out this webinar for a better understanding of how the entire C-suite is getting pulled in to guarantee success in the age of Healthcare Consumerism.