Hospital Updates Its Web CMS System

By Dennis Callaghan  |  Posted 2005-02-28

Hospital Updates Its Web CMS System

Like any typical hospital, providence healthcare, a rehabilitation hospital in Toronto, has no shortage of information it needs to communicate to the public. This includes information about programs and services, fundraising, press releases, the history of the hospital and its values and mission, any changes in building accessibility or parking caused by renovations, even job postings.

All these are important to patients, their families and the community-at-large.

With all these information needs, and the emergence of the Web as a dynamic, vital communications channel, health care facilities such as Providence Healthcare are seeking an easy-to-use Web CMS (content management system) to manage this steady, diverse flow of information.

Toward that end, early last year, Providence Healthcare launched a Web site built on Ektron Inc.s CMS200 content management system. It was the first content management system that Providence had used, after running a static, externally hosted site built with Microsoft Corp.s FrontPage Web design tool.

"Two years ago we started to look at changing the Web site we had," said Beth Johnson, manager of corporate communications at Providence, whose duties include running the companys Web site. "We were having difficulties using [FrontPage] and making simple updates to the site when we had a real need for getting information to families. The tool was archaic and difficult to use for somebody who wasnt technical."

So Providence Healthcare turned to Fusion Interactive Inc., a Toronto-based company that specializes in helping client companies develop marketing and sales solutions, including Web sites and e-marketing campaigns. Fusion, in turn, enlisted the help of Ektron.

Fusion typically relies on Ektrons products for companies looking for Web CMSes. The reasons: ease of use and attractive price, according to Luis Vieira, director of business development at Fusion. Indeed, the CMS200 site license cost Providence Healthcare only about $3,000, he said.

"Providence needed something where they could just log on and update their content themselves and have different departments access it," said Vieira. He noted that once Fusion designed the site and linked it to the CMS, there was a very short learning curve required: Providence Healthcare employees could immediately start using the system to update the site.

Aiding in the process was the effort that Fusion made to understand how the information would be accessed, by whom and for what purposes.

"Fusion was an enormous help," said Johnson. "They came up with the initial design, and the options they gave us [for the design] were very much in line with what we were hoping to see. The design was very user-friendly. They understood who our audience was. The clientele we serve is an older population, so the site needed to be bold, fresh and colorful with a font size [that was] easy to read. And it had to be user-friendly for [patients] family members. We had a wide array of needs to serve our audiences, and Im pleased with how they helped us to meet those needs."

"The technical know-how we could pick up anywhere," said Michael Sianghio, network administrator at Providence Healthcare. "But Fusion added the value of understanding our needs and being able to address them."

The entire process of designing the site and getting it up and running took approximately eight weeks, according to Fusion representatives. Less than a week of that was required for implementation of the CMS200 system.

Next Page: The CMS200 teams up with Ektron

The CMS200 Teams Up

With Ektron">

Providence Healthcare maintains the site itself and brings Fusion back in only when major changes are necessary. That has happened only once or twice since the site was launched in February 2004, Johnson said. Providence Healthcare has anecdotal information, but no hard data, that Web site traffic has increased since deploying the new site.

Providence Healthcares human resources department also has access to the site for online job postings. Visitors to the site can access current job postings, e-mail them to other potential candidates and apply to them online, all through an interface the site has with Canadian jobs site Workopolis. com.

"The way Workopolis streamlined into our own site has been seamless," said Johnson. "I know thats driven more traffic to our site."

In addition to the CMS200 entry-level system, the one that Providence Healthcare is using, Ektron, of Amherst, N.H., develops two other products—the CMS300, based on the same Windows code base but with more features; and CMS400.Net, which has the same functionality level as the CMS300 but allows companies with pure .Net environments to provide for deeper Web services integration with other applications, Ektron officials said.

Ektron has a particularly strong focus on the health care and education markets, according to Ektron CEO Bill Rogers. Now 7 years old, the company has more than 14,000 clients, ranging from small businesses with four or five employees up to large corporations such as Intel Corp. and Pfizer Inc.

Ektrons software is designed to be easy to use for nontechnical users, Rogers said. "We enable marketing teams to more easily push up content, whether its job postings, FAQs or getting syndicated feeds," Rogers said. The software can also be used to assign different tasks to different users.

Ektron does not offer vertical-specific functionality in its software but relies on partners, such as Fusion, to add their own functionality to deliver customized solutions for specific verticals, Rogers said.

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