How to Consolidate Your Martech Stack for a Better Patient Experience
Learn how you can meet patients at their highest moments of intent, provide better patient experiences, and meet your KPIs with a headless CMS.
Ten years ago, the term "omnichannel" had just made its way into the mainstream marketer's vocabulary. Mobile phones had just surpassed computer purchases for the first time.
It's clear that marketing has changed a lot since then. So has the healthcare industry, and how patients seek care. So why hasn't marketing technology evolved, too?
It's not that martech vendors have tried to keep up. Many monolithic content management systems (CMSs) acquired newer companies and added those features onto their legacy platforms. But this fix is a band-aid at best — and a massive hindrance for marketers at worst.
If you're a healthcare marketer, you may have resigned yourself to the technology you have. Getting approval from IT for a new solution is difficult — and while there are many benefits of digital transformation, IT departments are too focused on EMR connections to prioritize upgrades to your martech stack right now.
But hope isn't all lost: it's entirely possible to improve your martech stack without ripping out and replacing your existing solutions.
You can meet patients at their moments of highest intent, provide better patient experiences, and meet your KPIs. The key is to eliminate siloed information and systems and consolidate your martech solutions where it makes sense. Then, you can augment your existing techstack with features that serve healthcare marketers today — and well into the future, too.
Consolidate Your Data for an Easier-to-Manage Tech Stack
A massive tech stack can create more problems than it solves: information is siloed in different systems, there's no clear insight into your data and analytics, and it's a quick way to max out the budget for your fiscal year.
If these are problems you struggle with, then the solution is less technology, not more.
This isn't to say you should return to legacy systems with a monolithic architecture. However, it's reasonable that you should aim to consolidate technology when:
You have data and information that is siloed in multiple platforms with no single source of truth, and/or
Your techstack has grown so large that it's difficult to manage the channels your patients use most, like your website, listings, and reviews.
In this case, consolidation doesn't have to mean replacing all of your platforms and solutions with one vendor — though, with the right vendor and IT buy-in, you certainly can. Instead, shift your mindset to think about consolidation in terms of marketing data management.
When all your information is consolidated into one single source of truth, then that data can flow seamlessly from one system to the next, and back again. This connects all the platforms in your tech stack, and unifies how your information presents across each one. With this approach, you reduce manual effort, streamline information management, and improve your patients' experiences.
Can't Consolidate Your Solutions? Create a 'Layer' with a Headless CMS Instead
There are several reasons why consolidating technology may not be the best choice for your organization. You might have a composable, custom tech stack where each solution serves a specific purpose. Or, you may simply not have the IT resources for a full overhaul of your tech stack. In this case, consider a different approach: layering.
A flexible solution can serve as a "layer" on top of your existing platforms. In this instance, a headless CMS that can both ingest and export data is ideal. It will enable your team to manage provider data and content from one platform, ultimately delivering a patient experience full of accurate, consistent information across many digital channels.
Even if you aren't replacing or removing solutions from your tech stack, a headless CMS can help you manage them better. Because it's connected to the other systems in your tech stack by either custom or pre-built APIs, information flows bilaterally between your headless CMS and the other solutions in your tech stack.
You can't layer with just any headless CMS, though. The CMS needs to be able to ingest data (as well as export it). Not only that, but the data needs to be ingested and structured. Otherwise, your team will find themselves struggling to manage all the information imported. Because the desired effect of layering a headless CMS on top of your tech stack is to make information management easier, not harder, this is a key feature to consider when choosing your headless CMS solution.
This layered approach consolidates your data and information without requiring that you replace your existing solutions. It also helps you save time, close gaps between teams and departments, and make a compelling argument for investment into marketing technology to your IT department.
A Headless CMS Layer Benefits The Entire Organization
Rather than manually managing all the systems in your tech stack, you can update information one time in your headless CMS, and then work on something else as that change is reflected across systems and channels. Even third-party channels — like your local listings with Google, Apple, and Bing, your Find a Doctor directories on payer sites, and your review platforms — are managed in one place. This conserves resources for both marketing and IT teams, who would otherwise make these updates manually.
This approach can also close gaps between teams and departments, eliminating internal silos in the process. Because you've reduced the platforms your team manages (and, by extension, the user logins, roles, and permissions you need to manage, too), you can invite multiple teams to view data in one place. It's also easier to export all your data to your favorite reporting platform, so different teams can measure the value and return on your various projects. Finally, because your marketing team owns the source of truth for provider and location data, you'll be the main resource for the rest of the organization. This ensures you won't miss any updates or changes that are happening in silos elsewhere in the organization.
Your marketing team isn't the only team to benefit from this layered approach. Your IT department wants to see return on technology investments, and this approach consolidates data for easy reporting. This is because an API-first approach to your martech stack empowers you to ingest and send data – from any source, to any channel.
And using a headless CMS to layer onto your existing solutions encourages use cases beyond marketing alone. For instance, if IT doesn't have the resources to build a search experience, your marketers can take matters into their own hands by creating it themselves. The workload shifts away from the IT team, and any bottlenecks are eliminated.
Solutions You Can Consolidate and Layer
Your martech stack affects teams beyond just the marketing department. Many of your solutions affect other areas of the business, but they share the same goal: creating a great patient experience.
Here are a few examples of the systems — and the data that lives within — that can be consolidated or layered.
Content Management System (CMS) Your CMS manages your website and stores the content found there, like landing pages, contact information, FAQs, and blog posts. This is how marketers make sure patients can find your healthcare organization online. The CMS also makes sure that your healthcare marketing data is easily stored and managed. This means your CMS is (ideally) your single source of truth on information like your provider data, location and facilities data, and specialities and treatment data. And because many healthcare journeys begin on search engines like Google, your CMS should have built-in SEO capabilities.
Whether you're consolidating your tech stack or opting to layer on top of existing solutions, a headless CMS is key. The headless CMS ingests data from the other platforms in your marketing systems for easy management, and then exports that data to first-party channels (like your website and intranet) as well as third-party channels (like your listings and review platforms).
And here's the best part: you don't even need to replace your existing CMS. The headless CMS can even layer on top of traditional, monolithic CMSs, just like you'd layer it on top of the rest of your tech stack.
Intranet If you're a large health system, you may have an internal resource for support staff, billing, employees, and call center personnel. This is usually designed to eliminate information silos between departments — and the patients benefit, thanks to a workforce with access to the resources it needs to service consumers.
Making this information available in your headless CMS doesn't necessarily mean you're hosting it on a patient-facing channel, like your website. Think of the overlap between information on your intranet and your website, though: providers, their specialities, and treatments offered, as well as contact information, addresses, hours of operation, and appointment availability. You can keep this information consistent between your internal and external-facing channels. Keep the data in its respective platform but also import and organize it into your single source of truth — all while only managing one system.
Customer Relationship Management (CRM) Your CRM is likely the first tool you think of when it comes to managing patient relationships. It powers how you reach your patients, and is integral to outbound outreach and marketing campaigns. This can include email marketing and automation, too.
Connecting your CMS to your CRM is fairly standard for most marketing tech stacks. Connecting your CRM to the headless CMS that serves as your source of truth takes this capability even further. For example, a patient who submits a form on your website (powered by your traditional, monolithic CMS) will have their information sent to your CRM. But the information is also sent to your headless CMS, which then exports that data to your email automation tool. As a result, your communications can be more personalized — which is what patients want. This makes your content more engaging for patients and consumers.
Provider Relationship Management (PRM) Instead of managing customer relationships, the PRM manages provider data and their respective relationships. It allows marketers to work with governance teams to manage public-facing information about providers, thereby allowing marketers to drive greater opportunities for patient acquisition.
Once marketing owns the source of truth (your headless CMS), you become the team in the healthcare organization with the most accurate record of provider data. As a result, provider data can be easily managed and updated via your team or via separate entities (e.g., departments, practice managers, etc., which eliminates information silos. It also ensures that your external facing systems, like your website, apps and Find a Doctor directories, always display the most accurate information to patients and potential patients.
Electronic Medical Records (EMR) EMRs are the electronic version of patient charts and records. This typically includes sensitive data, and is protected by HIPAA. EMRs store patient data, physician data, and provider availability. Your EMR can connect to your website, too. Think about patients scheduling appointments online: they'll want to see their provider's availability, so that information needs to be connected to the appropriate website page.
By connecting your EMR system to the rest of your tech stack through a headless CMS serving as your source of truth, appointment availability isn't just limited to your appointment booking experience on your website. Your scheduling information can also be sent to third-party channels outside your website such as your listings, where patients may look to book an appointment.
External-facing Provider Data Management Your listings are often the first online properties your consumers see — especially when they start their journey on a search engine. It's important that you manage your location and provider data on third-party sites so patients can find you when they're searching.
Over one-third of patients use third-party websites to decide where to seek care, so listings are key to your visibility in local search. But with so many to manage – from listings on search engines like your Google Business Profile and Apple Business Connect, to healthcare industry-specific listings like WebMD and DocShop – marketers benefit from the "update once, update everywhere" capability that a layered tech stack offers. Again, this saves time and energy for other projects.
Reputation Management Reviews are important factors in how patients choose care. Your SEO and even your patient acquisition can rise or fall with your reviews. A reputation management platform syncs reviews from all the different platforms. This makes for easy consolidation, management, and response to reviews.
With the additional layer of a headless CMS, you can take this consolidation a step further by bringing review management, response, and even analytics data together.
A Consolidated Martech Stack Improves Patient Experiences
Patients found care differently in the past than they do today. First, they would need to make an appointment. Sometimes they would call your office, and other times, they would go to your website to book it. Then, they would see their primary care physician, listen to the doctor's recommendations, and if necessary, book their appointment for their referral.
Now, their journey is different. Patients are finding information about their care in multiple places online — and your website is only one of them.
Convenience is key in today's patient journey. These patients expect information to be clear, concise, and consistent across all channels. And this is easier to accomplish when you consolidate your information and remove silos in your data. A consolidated techstack benefits marketers and patients because:
Your tech stack is easier to manage — and so are the channels your patients visit most. Instead of forcing your team to log into each individual platform to update and manage your marketing data, every solution is connected together in a composable architecture. Your team only needs to update information once and the new information is reflected on each channel your patients use. Whether you choose a single vendor for your all-in-one martech solution or whether you use several SaaS vendors to create a composable tech stack, patients and marketers benefit when information flows freely from one system to the next.
It's easier to manage information, so you can focus on more impactful priorities. Managing the same information manually within multiple platforms takes time away from other projects and priorities. A modern marketing team needs to spend less time on information management, not more.
For example, when hours of operations change, the new information needs to be found on your website, your listings, any communications, online appointment request forms, and more. By creating a connected tech stack (either by consolidating or layering your platforms), you can make it so that information is only managed in one place, but any updates are reflected everywhere. This eliminates the tedious and monotonous task of logging into each system in your tech stack to make the same update over and over again — and leaves more time for your team to design better patient experiences.
- ROI on technology investments and marketing activities are easier to collect and share across the organization. Marketers have KPIs, or key performance indicators, that they need to meet. With a connected techstack, data – including performance data – is stored and consolidated into one source of truth. Whether custom or built-in, APIs facilitate the transfer of data across systems. Then, your team can see insights clearly, make informed decisions, and report ROI back to leadership.
Consolidating your solutions and reducing your costs can amplify your impact on patient experiences — while improving employee workflows and experiences internally.
Yext Content, the headless CMS from Yext, can ingest data from any data source via an API. These APIs can be custom created by your IT team, or your marketing team can use one of the 131 built-in integrations already available. This easy set-up means you can layer it on top of your existing content management system, along with any other platform, system, or channel you need to manage.
Not only does Yext Content ingest data from any source, but it structures the information, too. You can organize multiple systems to import data on your providers. For example, a provider's appointment availability can be imported from your EMR, their credentials, specialties, and treatment options can be imported from your PRM, and reviews on this provider can be imported from your review management platform. All of this data is consolidated and structured in your single source of truth — Yext Content. Then, that data can be easily managed and updated, before information is deployed back out to other systems.
And because Yext Content is one of very few CMSs to power both first- and third-party channels, patients can easily find and rely on the information you give them. The patient experience is streamlined because you've created a seamless journey before they've even stepped foot into your office.
Other healthcare organizations are already starting to take advantage of this new approach to data management and their tech stack. For example, Beacon Health leaned into their headless CMS from Yext to find success in everything from improved SEO to increased appointments.