The Eight Steps of a Successful Health Content Library Integration


Word Health written in search bar on virtual screen.

Licensing a health library is the right decision for most organizations. It promotes your hospital’s expertise, helps serve patient education needs, and helps fill waiting room seats and physician schedules. But just licensing a health library does little to help you realize these benefits. In fact, the value your organization gets from its health library is directly related to how effectively it is integrated with your website. A health library that is merely attached to a website provides visitors with a clickpath to health information, but returns little of the value that a fully integrated health library does.

The following sections describe options for integrating a health library, starting with the most basic and proceeding to more advanced – and valuable – types of integration. Read sequentially, each section is an integration step that moves the organization from a rudimentary attached health library that provides minimal value to increasingly sophisticated health library integrations that provide maximal value.

Attach the Health Library to Your Site

Screen capture showing a link to health library in a hospital website's main navigation.

You’ve made an investment in purchasing quality health content, so it’s important that your visitors can discover it from wherever they are on your site. To accommodate this, add a link to the health library in your main navigation. If this isn’t an option, adding links to secondary navigation and page panels can also make your health library discoverable by site visitors. This minimal integration is considered an “attached” health library.

But an attached health library is not just a link in the navigation. It must also provide visitors with a means to search and navigate within the content. Typically, attached health libraries provide this functionality but it likely won’t integrate with the search built in to the rest of your website, and the internal navigation may or may not match your site’s theme and design.

While attaching a health content library is a necessary step to providing a truly integrated experience, settling only for an attached library is a compromise that provides minimal utility to site visitors and a poor return on the investment you’ve made licensing quality health content.

High performing hospitals push beyond the rudimentary attached health library and strive to implement a truly integrated health library by incorporating some or all of the following in their websites.

Provide an Integrated Search Experience

Screenshot showing health library content in site search results.

Search doesn’t end once visitors find your website. In fact, once on your website, search remains an important part of a visitor’s site navigation strategy. For this reason, it’s important to make sure your health library content is included with other website content in your site search.

For example, both the Healthwise and Krames StayWell health library integrations for VitalSite index the health library content and include relevant results in your site search. This provides a much better experience to site visitors because when they search for information on their health conditions anywhere on the website, they are provided with results that include relevant health information from the health library (in addition to relevant physicians, events, service lines, etc…). Visitors who want to exclusively view health library search results can easily do so by selecting the appropriate tab (see image above).

Add Deep Links to Health Library Content

Screen shot showing contextual link to health library topics in CMS content.

Beyond integrated search and navigation, hospitals interested in providing an integrated health library need to start surfacing related health library information on their website pages. Often, this includes manual linking strategies that direct visitors to topics in the health library. For example, if a site visitor is reading about your hospital’s melanoma clinic, it might make sense to include relevant links to related melanoma content from your health library. Visitors researching your bariatric surgery offerings should find natural links to health library content on Roux-en-Y Gastrectomy, Gastric Sleeve, and Gastric Banding surgeries (for example).

To do this effectively, it’s imperative that you familiarize yourself with the content that exists in your health library. Then, take a critical look at your existing website content and see where there are opportunities to help inform site visitors.

At this (and other) stage(s), it may be helpful to involve a qualified content strategist who is familiar with hospital websites, the needs of healthcare website visitors, and who understands the content available to you in your health library. If you’re not sure where to begin, Geonetric’s content strategists can help map out a plan for you.

Promote Health Library Content Automatically

Screen capture showing dynamic linking to related health library content.

While a manual content linking strategy is essential to directing visitors to health library topics, it’s just one component of a useful linking strategy. Beyond manual links, a quality health library integration should have an automated way to include relevant links to health library information from other pages on your site.

This is where your choice in CMS can make a big difference in your ability to surface meaningful content from deep within your health library.

For example, VitalSite offers a unique SmartPanels feature designed to work with external health library content. Behind the scenes, a taxonomy engine establishes the relationship between all content managed by the CMS, and all content in the health library. When a Related Health Content SmartPanel is placed on a page, viewers will see in the panel links to the most relevant health library content. As visitors traverse your website, the links in the SmartPanel will change to be the most relevant to the content on the current page.

When you consider that a hospital website can have thousands of pages, and a health library can have thousands of topics, it is essential to employ an automated approach to cross linking and promoting content like that provided by SmartPanels.

Promote Your Physicians, Events, Services from within the Health Library

Screen capture of physicians automatically promoted in Krames StayWell health library content

What better way to promote your staff oncologists than when a site visitor is reading information about melanoma warning signs? Your educational seminars on bariatric surgery are ideally promoted when site visitors read about gastric banding. The list goes on. But with thousands of pages of health library content, manually linking to an always-changing schedule of related events or relevant physicians is all but impossible.

Because of this, VitalSite SmartPanels also help you promote your physicians, events and services from within your health library content. Best of all, they use taxonomy to make sure the things that are promoted are directly related to the health library content being reviewed. Once you set it up, your entire health library becomes an effective tool not just for patient education, but for filling event rosters and physician waiting rooms.

This is currently available only to VitalSite clients licensing Healthwise content. In the coming weeks this feature will become available to clients using the Krames StayWell health library as well.

Embed Health Library Content In Your Website Pages

Screen capture of VitalSite's health library document chooser

Linking to health library content is a great way to surface meaningful content to your visitors, but it’s just the start of a meaningful health library integration. If you start thinking beyond linking strategies, you’ll realize that health library content is a great resource for patient education and to demonstrate your expertise in your market. Of course, if it’s cloistered away in an attached library, it’s hard to do either.

What many organizations need to do is break their health library content out of its silo and blur the lines between their own content and their licensed content. One effective way to do this is by embedding selected health library content elsewhere on the website…hopefully in contextually relevant locations where it provides a natural browsing experience for site visitors.

For example, if you’re promoting your hospital’s cancer center, it would likely make sense to provide some actual cancer-related health information right in that section of your website. Perhaps even a robust library of cancer-related health information should live there. Since you’ve already purchased high-quality evidence-based content in your health library, why not embed it right in the section of your site where it makes the most sense for it to live?

You don’t have this option with most health libraries, but with VitalSite and the Krames StayWell health library, you can import entire topics from the health library and display them on pages anywhere in your site, with a navigation structure of your choosing. When you embed health content in this manner, you control the following:

  • Page URL
  • HTML Page Title
  • MetaDescription
  • Whether or not the page appears in site navigation and search

Regardless of your approach, you’re going to have to understand what types of use your specific license allows. While some health libraries may provide you with the option to copy and paste content, or dynamically import topics into your CMS (as with VitalSite clients who license Krames StayWell content), others may impose much more severe restrictions on how you can use health library content outside of the attached health library. Some may not allow it at all, or may require additional fees for using it in additional ways. Save yourself the headache and have a conversation with your health content provider before you start the work.

Customize Health Library Content

Screen capture showing health library content being edited.

One size may fit all when it comes to clothing, but it seldom works for content. Many organizations who purchase health library content would like to customize portions of it, especially those topics they embed on their website. While some health libraries have strict prohibitions against this, hospitals who license Krames StayWell health library content can customize the content to best fit their needs and brand. Whether this means rewriting licensed content, updating it to match organizational tone and reading level guidelines, or just removing existing Krames StayWell branding, this type of deep customization is available to clients using VitalSite with the Krames StayWell health library integration.

Integrate Horizontally

Screen capture showing a tweet with a link to health library content.

Remember, your online presence is more than your website. In addition to the vertical website integration described above, look for opportunities to go horizontal. If your license allows, look for ways to use relevant and engaging health library content on your brand’s blogs, social media channels and other web properties. You’ll want to check your content license for specifics, but if you’re using Krames StayWell content, you may have the rights to do this already.

In addition to embedding health library content on these additional properties and channels, don’t forget how helpful a link building strategy can be to drive traffic to select pages in your health content library. Not only does this promote your brand and increase your visibility, but it gets your market onto your website, where they are more likely to avail themselves of your services.

Getting Started

If you’re interested in getting more from your investment in a health content library, or would like to make sure your library is fully integrated, contact us to learn more.

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This entry was posted in Admin Feed, Best Practices, Content by Michael O'Neill. Bookmark the permalink.
Michael O'Neill

About Michael O'Neill

It’s not often you find a communications professional who is an expert writer, understands the power of social media and has the technical capabilities to embed on and contribute to software development teams. But that’s exactly the background Michael brought with him to Geonetric as the technical communications strategist. From writing eBooks to managing Geonetric’s digital presence, Michael uses his software know how and his marketing savvy to help tell Geonetric’s story through a variety of platforms. This former adjunct professor holds a bachelor’s degree in English literature from Worcester State College in Massachusetts and completed graduate level coursework at the University of Connecticut. In addition, Michael is also a Certified ScrumMaster, a contributing writer at iBusiness Magazine and a member of the Board of Directors at Gems of Hope. This new dad is known for his high coffee standards and has quite the following around the office when he brings in his favorite craft-roasted beans.

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