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HP Software's community for IT leaders // July 2012
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A cure for information delivery challenges

By creating a shared information portal for its large membership, the American Hospital Association revolutionized research for the medical industry and found dramatic internal efficiencies.

At the American Hospital Association, information dissemination is a big job. With 37,000 individual members and 5,000 member hospitals, AHA provides extensive resources and publications for an active community of hospital administration professionals, in addition to other advocacy and professional development support.

Despite its commitment to supplying members with accurate, up-to-date information, the search experience on the AHA web site until recently was very cumbersome. The organization works with more than 50 affiliates, each of which contributes to the overall accumulation of AHA resources. But with no integration or unified search facility across the affiliated sites, finding content could be difficult.

Complicating matters, many of the affiliates lacked adequate resources to post timely information on their sites. Together, these factors made information retrieval from the AHA site overly complex and time-consuming.

"If you were a hospital administrator that needed information about HIPAA [the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996], for example—an important issue to healthcare providers—the whole process of searching for information could easily take more than an hour," explains Craig Webb, content manager of HospitalConnect, the association’s new health leadership portal. "In addition to having to conduct multiple searches on the AHA site, you'd also have to visit all 20 of our membership organization sites."

A single access point for content

The AHA decided to create an information management portal that would efficiently connect its members with all of the content in the affiliate network. Using the analogy of a condominium, the association targeted a shared technical infrastructure across all sites but included plenty of individuality in terms of site look and feel. To accomplish this condominium-like web portal structure, the AHA chose Autonomy's content management platform.

Autonomy's unique parallel development and branching technology is a critical component of the solution. Using this technology, hundreds of contributors can work individually or as teams to create, preview and publish site content in their own "work areas" without interfering with content that has been created by others. This allows affiliates to maintain their own sites in a cost-effective manner as well as share and reuse content across different Internet properties.

The new portal, dubbed HospitalConnect, provides a single, centralized access point to an exhaustive amount of research, education material and products from the AHA's 50-plus association and in-house web sites. Visitors also gain access to a customizable home page where they can receive alerts on key initiatives and download reports that are of particular importance to them.

Efficient publishing, dynamic content

Because content creation was often a bottleneck for affiliates, the AHA also relies on Autonomy's flexible, easy-to-use templates that make content entry simple—even for novice computer users. Prior to implementation, only a handful of individuals had the expertise to create and edit content. Now, hundreds are able to participate.

"We've made it possible for more people to post more things more often, in a more timely manner, and in a way that more people can take advantage of," Webb says.

The AHA also reports that Autonomy's open stack architecture has been an asset, providing seamless integration with a wide range of best-of-breed technologies and the flexibility to change in the future if needed.

Building greater profitability

Because the AHA no longer has to manually build hundreds of thousands of links to sites, it has saved tens of thousands of dollars in web development and management costs. It has also helped the association extend its reach and effectiveness, while lowering print costs.

"Before the portal, we would print maybe 5,000 to 10,000 copies of a report and send one copy to each CEO. Now our reports are downloaded up to 250,000 times, which has had an enormous impact on our advocacy and education efforts," Webb says.

It has created new revenue opportunities as well. The AHA has created fee-based services for its members, such as job boards, using the Autonomy platform.

Finally, by improving the ease of content and collaboration creation for affiliates, HospitalConnect is updated as frequently as six times per day, providing members with up-to-date information to make better, more informed decisions.

Read the full case study, “AHA cures information delivery challenge (registration required). To learn more about the power of a true managed content platform, please visit the Autonomy TeamSite page.


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