Structured Content: The Future of Health Education

Christy Calhoun, MPH, Chief Content Officer

Today’s health consumers demand focused health content that flows easily across devices. Your users expect compelling videos, visuals, and information that meets them wherever they are and is easy to consume. They want to interact digitally with you and your brand. And they need to know they can trust your content to be accurate and up to date. To keep up with these expectations, your health system needs a way to deliver content quickly in a foolproof way without tying up teams every time you enhance your website, push timely social media campaigns, or roll out a new health app. It’s time to support your health system’s digital experience goals and connect with your patients through structured content that is targeted and relevant.


Structured Content: The Building Blocks of Digital Health Experiences

Structured content (sometimes called “modular content” or “content as a service”) lets you publish individual, discrete bits of information quickly and easily. Each item is tagged with rich metadata, making the content flexible and easy to find and deploy. Each module is designed to “plug and play” on your website. Think of structured content as a set of building blocks—each block is a piece of information, an image, or even a video. You can select content to build your own unique creations to support your brand and initiatives.

This modular approach stands head and shoulders above the inflexible content many sites currently use. Structured content allows you to differentiate yourself by integrating accurate health information into your digital experiences for greater personalization and ease of use. Most of your audience will access your health content from a phone or tablet at some point, and if your presentation doesn’t flow well, consumers will leave. Structured content that’s liberated from the layout displays elegantly on mobile devices in a responsive way.1 It also makes it easy to integrate rich media experiences, like audio and video, that will make you stand out from the crowd.

Think Outside the Box

The possibilities for structured content go well beyond your company’s website—you can apply this approach virtually anywhere you use content. Do you host classes for patients or the community? Prepare educational material to support your education goals in the blink of an eye. Are you a telehealth organization? Play audio or videos while patients are waiting for a virtual visit, or send a link with helpful, up-to-date health information afterward. Is your marketing team exhausted, trying to fill your social media feeds day in and day out? Give them engaging content to pair with your messages, such as fitness trackers and infographics. Do you text appointment reminders to patients? Include a health-related video to help advance your health literacy goals.

Structured content supports automation and programmatic delivery while maintaining a human touch to help people get the right level of care. It can help you build stronger relationships and design more connected care experiences for every health journey.


Pivoting on a Dime: Health Content for Emergencies

As one health system recently discovered, modular content truly shines when you need accurate, engaging, medically reviewed content right now. When Gritman Medical Center treated two patients with measles last year, they needed to alert and educate the community as quickly as possible to prevent the spread of misinformation. In addition to sharing information about the importance of measles prevention, Gritman also wanted to coordinate press releases and let patients know it was safe to come to the hospital.

“In the course of a day, we went from coming up with advertising for our next campaign to the administration team hunkering down with the health department trying to figure out the critical response,” recalls Peter Mundt, director of community relations and marketing for Gritman.

If this rural hospital had been forced to research, write, review, code, and design all the content from scratch, the project would have taken weeks—time they didn’t have when faced with a community that needed answers immediately. Fortunately, Gritman’s website was formatted to work with structured content. They created the new page, then populated it with medically accurate structured content topics such as “What are the symptoms of measles?” and “Why is it important to get your child immunized?” Gritman also wanted a photo, so they searched their database of structured content and found one showing the measles rash. They even included an engaging video about the importance of immunizations. All of this content was easy to find because it had been tagged with metadata. Gritman personalized the messaging by including a section with a Q&A from the hospital’s CMO and emergency director, as well as the phone number local residents should call to report new cases. This modular approach allowed the medical center to quickly put together a comprehensive emergency response that still looked and felt personalized.

“There was a fear of people not wanting to come to the hospital, but we were able to dial that back so quickly,” says Peter. “We could never have done this on our own.”

The time from start to finish? Five hours.


The Time Is Now

The time to break up with old-school content and move to modular is now. Are you ready to leap into the future of digital healthcare experiences? Get started with The Healthcare Marketer’s Guide to Structured Content, our free eBook that walks you through every step of the process. And if you find yourself at HIMSS20 in March, use our online tool to schedule an appointment with Healthwise, or just stop by booth #2533 to chat and see a demo. We’ll be there, ready to help you connect with your audience.