3 Steps to “Tidy Up” Your Health Content

Sonja Deines, Communications Manager


In January of 2019, Marie Kondo’s Netflix series “Tidying Up With Marie Kondo” inspired many Americans to edit the clutter out of their homes. But I didn’t watch the series until the COVID-19 pandemic. I worked from home for 15 months, and during that time, some of the clutter that had never bugged me before I was home 24/7 became unbearable. As I binge-watched the show, not only did I discover that I’m folding my clothes all wrong and have way too many books, but I also learned you could apply Marie Kondo’s techniques in business, too.

Every episode begins with clients explaining their situation. They know the clutter is a problem, but they feel overwhelmed and don’t know how to solve it. As I got my house in order, I decided to organize the Healthwise marketing assets’ house as well. Anxiety flooded me as I began looking at our datasheets, infographics, eBooks, white papers, blog posts, FAQs, white papers—you get the idea. But I decided to use a few ideas behind the Marie Kondo’s method, called the KonMari Method™ to clean up and organize our marketing content. As I put our marketing content in order, some of our clients were telling us they were struggling with managing their health content, too.

Health education is a crucial component when it comes to improving healthcare outcomes and reducing healthcare costs. But how does your health education look? In some provider organizations, it looks the same as it did fifty years ago. And outdated health content is now a huge problem. Why?

  • You can’t afford to send the wrong message. Consumers see you as a single entity they interact with in person, online, on mobile, or in print. They expect consistent health information from you, whether it’s information from a provider visit, available on your website, published on your social media channels, or accessed through a patient portal. It registers as a mistake if people don’t receive a coherent experience from organizations across all channels. And the trust they had in you and your organization is damaged.
  • Aging health education can damage your brand reputation. Many organizations change their social media and web content daily but forget about their old, outdated print materials. Given that health information is constantly evolving as new discoveries are made, it’s important to ensure that your health content is current.
  • A lack of reliable health information can impact health outcomes. Someone who searches for information related to a health condition might end up on a website that doesn’t have a system in place for providing reliable, accurate, and helpful information. Worse yet, patients can end up on a site that delivers incorrect information or nonclinical advice that can impact the patient’s decision to seek appropriate medical care.


Here are some tips I learned during the organizing process that might help you clean up your health content.

Step One: Take A Content Inventory

The KonMari Method of cleaning and organizing, encourages tidying by category—not by location—beginning with clothes, then moving on to books, papers, and miscellaneous items. You can do this by breaking your patient education into categories and then taking an inventory of what you have. Start your resource overhaul with the most prominent issues, then work your way toward the problems you see less frequently.

Just as retailers take inventory of the products on their shelves, healthcare organizations need to take inventory of the content in circulation and on file. You can conduct your inventory armed with nothing more than a spreadsheet and some perseverance.


Step Two: Out With the Old

Once you have the inventory of content, you can start the discarding process. “Effective tidying involves only two essential actions: discarding and deciding where to keep things,” Marie says in her book. “Of the two, discarding must come first.”

To do discarding right, you need patience, determination, and focus. On the show, the clients exhibit a great deal of resistance to shedding their possessions. Resistance to decluttering is a major problem with healthcare organizations too, especially when it comes to their health information. Some organizations fear getting rid of content and often stick with age-old formats and content styles that impact accessibility, visibility, and brand recall.

Parkview Health started their content clean-up by establishing a governance process and an advisory committee to oversee the project. Then they did some much-needed housekeeping by eliminating out-of-date materials. For example, they found one piece of literature that hadn't been updated since 1978!

Be ruthless. Only keep up-to-date content that is on-brand, evidence based, culturally sensitive, and written in plain language. Discard anything that can’t be refreshed, or the effort involved would outweigh the return on the investment of time and energy.

Step Three: Give Everything a Home

The final step in the process is to file your health content so it stays organized, manageable, and accessible. While keeping your clothes tidy via the KonMari method requires origami-like folding techniques, keeping your health content tidy requires a content taxonomy. A content taxonomy is simply a classification system that helps you keep track of the content you have and helps you find what you need easily.

The goal is to make your content more visible and usable so you can see what you have and find the content to support any health education need. To learn how the Healthwise metadata team makes our high-quality health education findable and meaningful, check out this post.

Ready to Roll Up Your Sleeves?

The tremendous upside about following the KonMari method is that you don’t have to follow every rule. Rather, it can act as a guideline for decluttering your health content.

A key element of Marie’s philosophy is to tidy up in one shot, rather than little by little. As Marie says, “A true, once-in-a-lifetime tidying festival can take several weeks, though it certainly doesn’t have to. Set aside space and time to do it properly; know that things may feel topsy-turvy in the process, but you’ll come out clearer on the other side.” It might seem overwhelming to standardize and organize your health education, but the rewards in engagement and improving the patient experience are more than worth the extra effort!

If you need help getting started or want an expert to lead the process, you can learn more about Healthwise’s education strategy services here.