5 Key Questions When Choosing a Digital Health Education Vendor

Healthwise Communications Team


Creating content—especially health content—is not a quick and easy task. The time it takes to write a single blog post has increased by 74% over the last nine years to 4 hours and 10 minutes on average. And when you’re writing about health topics, the time to create content grows exponentially. Health education content requires extensive research, needs to be written in plain language and reviewed by clinical experts, and must be regularly checked and updated after it’s created to ensure clinical accuracy that persists over time.

Creating new health content that’s clinically accurate, relevant, and trusted by clinicians and patients is a significant investment. It takes collaboration from committed and highly trained experts to produce quality results that follow consistent standards.

  • Creating new content can involve 14 experts investing 30+ hours.
  • Keeping content accurate and up to date can involve 7 experts investing 15+ hours.
  • Creating video health education can take 15 experts 40+ hours.

All of this points to an easy answer: Don’t do it yourself! Rely on experts to deliver consistent, creative, accurate content to engage your health consumers. But how do you choose an education vendor?

What to Ask Health Education Vendors

Here are five questions that will help you determine whether you’re entering a partnership that will bring you and your consumers both the best experience AND the best health education.

Q: What’s your creation, review, and update process for content?

Health information is always changing, and an avalanche of potentially dangerous health misinformation is just a few clicks away. Your organization can become a trusted source of health information that consumers turn to again and again, but first you need to make sure the health content you provide is accurate and up to date.

Sample questions about a vendor’s content creation and review process might look like:

  • What are the experience levels or credentials of the health education writers who create your content?
  • Are all different types of content—text, images, and video—coming from the same source to ensure consistent messaging
  • Do experts review the content after it’s created to make sure it’s accurate and reflects current clinical practice?
  • How often do you check content to make sure it’s current? Medicine and clinical guidance changes, so content needs to be regularly revisited.

Any reputable health content vendor should rely on time-tested processes for content creation and review and should be able to answer these questions easily.


Q: Do you offer structured content?

You probably know about content as a service (or CaaS), which is digitally delivered content. But don’t settle for just any CaaS solution—ask if the vendor offers structured content. Structured content has been refined into the smallest logical components possible, and it’s well organized for findability and programmability.

For example, some vendors offering CaaS might provide a content library to embed on your website. You may be able to pull entire articles out of the library to use in other places, but the articles group the condition, its symptoms, and treatment into one larger content block that can only be used whole. In this case, even though it’s CaaS, you can’t embed or repurpose smaller pieces of the article on social media, in emails, or on your website. Structured content makes each element—condition, symptoms, and treatment, for example—a separate building block, allowing you far more flexibility to rearrange and use the information in different ways.

Q: What sizes and types of content do you offer?

Content size matters. Whatever your organization does—whether it’s a hospital, a marketing firm, or a healthcare app creator—you’re going to need content of varying sizes. Sometimes you just need a small snippet, sometimes you need a fully composed article. The more variety you can get in content size, the better. Broader choice means you have what you need for everything from social media to SEO-optimized web pages.

You also want to ensure the vendor offers a variety of multimedia, including short videos, 3D animations, written content, and images. People learn in different ways, and providing text and visuals not only helps drive the message home, but it keeps people engaged. Just make sure the health information is consistent across all assets so that the text, video, and images send a unified message. (Pro tip: ask about the average completion rate on videos. Simply offering videos isn’t enough—the completion rate tells you if people actually watch them. Look for completion rates over 70% to ensure viewers aren’t abandoning videos halfway through.)

Q: Tell us about your metadata and taxonomy

Having access to the best education content won’t help you if the system itself is a roadblock to finding that content. The key to finding what you need is how the content is tagged—the metadata—and how it’s organized—the taxonomy.

In simple terms, metadata helps you find and display content. Health content should be tagged with metadata like keywords, demographics, patient journey stage, and medical codes. These tags make it easy to find what you’re looking for. Being able to search for content based on these attributes is key to building specific, personalized, and engaging experiences for end users.

Taxonomy refers to how content is organized. The taxonomy is made up of levels, from broad to specific, as you can see in the image below. A good taxonomy uses these levels to group related content so you can find the content you need. For example, if you needed content about a bone scan but you weren’t sure what was available, the taxonomy below shows you all the bone scan content. And because it’s grouped in narrow headings like ”how it feels,” “risks,” and “understanding your results,” you can see—and choose—the best piece of content for your use case.

example of taxonomy

Q: How is your content delivered?

Content delivery determines how the content shows up on your website and in your assets. A good vendor will use a system that updates content automatically without any action from you or your IT team. The alternative scenario—one where your IT team has to upload updates manually—is cumbersome, time-consuming, and means your users don't always see the most accurate, up-to-date content. You may want to partner with someone in your IT department to find out what your organization needs, but look for things like standard, modern API delivery; a developer portal and software development kit; and the ability to choose content output format including HTML, JSON, or cut and paste.

Bonus question: How do you support clients after initial implementation?

You don’t want your vendor to just set it and forget it—or forget you. For some companies, once the contract is signed and their solution is installed, you’re on your own. Ask the vendor for client reviews and find out if they can share recent net promoter (NPS) scores, which measure client loyalty.

Want to learn more about Healthwise and our education content? Get in touch to find out if our new digital content solution Healthwise® Compass can fulfill your health education content needs.