Why Sitecore Really is the Best CMS for Large Healthcare Web Implementations

March 14, 2016 | John Berndt

sun shining over a hospitalOnly rarely do we go out on a limb and give a “best” rating to a particular technology platform, but Sitecore, in the context of health system and hospital websites, seems to demand it. 

It is a public secret that 85%+ of what content management systems (CMS/WCM/CX platforms) do—ranging from the small and free to the fantastically expensive and sprawling enterprise systems—is largely the same. The devil is, however, as they say, entirely in the details. And when it comes to healthcare and hospital system sites, certain features matter deeply and how usably they are implemented makes the difference between happy outcomes with satisfied clients and frustrating and stalled endeavors that set back organizations digitally when they should be surging forward.

TBG’s experience with CMS systems is extensive—as consultants aggressively covering the space since 2002 and as developers on at least 14 different significant CMS systems to date. We like a variety of content management systems and optimizers, and use them on all sorts of projects. But it is no accident in the context of our experience that we have selected Sitecore as our most often recommended CMS for large healthcare transformations.

Though hospital and healthcare systems have many of the same content management needs as everyone else, we believe there are four areas where their needs are generally greater, and where Sitecore matches or exceeds the performance and fit of its competitors:

  • Multi-site management

Most healthcare organizations need to manage multiple digital properties, including location sites, and share content among these properties. At the same time, they need to execute their digital strategies through a framework that allows for maximum control and auditability. Sitecore does all of this, making it the perfect framework to build very efficient and flexible multi-site solutions. 

  • Integrations

Almost all major healthcare sites require numerous integrations for provider search, scheduling, clinical trials, human resources, and a host of other elements. What makes the difference for these in practice is the technical clarity, completeness, and flexibility of the CMS system that is being asked to integrate against the other systems—speeding up deployment and avoiding black boxes that inhibit progress. Among CMS systems, Sitecore has the reputation of being the best engineered—and most consistently, from-the-ground-up engineered—system, with a crystalline clarity that provides no roadblocks to developers. 

  • Template flexibility

In the context of healthcare marketing, budgets do not support returning to your developer every time you require a new landing page or want to update the look-and-feel of a microsite. For this reason, a CMS platform that supports abstract templating options, where content can be structured but presented in a variety of flexible ways, becomes essential to saving money and getting to market faster with digital products. All CMS claim to provide this today, but Sitecore is on the forefront of separating content from presentation.

  • Data-driven marketing & targeted experiences 

Healthcare marketing has become highly competitive, and almost all major CMS products boast a suite of marketing and personalization features. Sitecore’s features are an order of magnitude better and more flexible than the mid-market competition and much nimbler and faster-to-market than Adobe, which is its only comparable system. Personalization and data-driven communications are areas that have the potential to deliver enormous returns in digital marketing, population health, foundation development, and geographic logistics for healthcare systems.

Other CMS platforms address these key healthcare needs in different ways, but all of them fall short of Sitecore’s comprehensiveness, stability and ease of use. Looking at two popular platforms:

Adobe Experience Manager and the related suite matches Sitecore’s capabilities in many places (and may even exceed it in a few areas on the data-driven front for the time being), but implies very slow development of the Java variety, slow-to-market, and also is in a few cases poorly integrated among its parts—a patchwork system built from acquisitions that can fall short of what we think modern healthcare sites need.

Acquia Drupal has a number of good qualities, not the least of which is being extremely fast-to-market, but is significantly opaque from a technical standpoint, with an architecture that is at times not clearly divided enough between content and presentation layers. It is also harder to support and too limited in its core capabilities to do well with real-world multi-site, flexible templating scenarios that also integrate personalization. Those scenarios may sound like a tall order, but we believe they soon will be standard needs in modern healthcare sites. We work with Drupal, and we do think it’s a viable solution for some less complex healthcare sites or sites needing less flexibility or multi-site capabilities.

Of the broadly available systems, Sitecore has by far the best mix of flexibility, features, dependability, and openness available to meet the needs of the evolving digital healthcare ecosystem. Not surprisingly, many leaders in healthcare have already chosen it, not the least being Penn Medicine, Johns Hopkins Medicine, The Mayo Clinic, The Cleveland Clinic, UPMC, Baycare, and Children’s National Health System, Nationwide Children’s Hospital, and Wake Health, just to name a few.

We felt that Sitecore’s good qualities deserve to be highlighted, since it is so deservedly rocking and rolling in healthcare—and we want others to understand why. 

About the Author

John Berndt

I'm CEO of TBG and I've been thinking about the Web in creative ways since the year it began.

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