North York General cures its content management ills

North York General Hospital in Toronto has implemented Revize, a program by Michigan-based Idetix Software Systems, to improve communications with all levels of hospital staff via their


Almost like blogging on an institutional scale, Revize allows multiple authors to update web pages with current news and information, viewable only on the NYGH local intranet. The software was ideal for the hospital’s content management needs — and their budget, according to Chris Hart, North York General’s IT strategy coordinator.

“”When we initially started looking at content management systems we realized that we were somewhere in-between. Not being a media-rich organization we couldn’t justify spending $100 K or more,”” Hart said.

“”The biggest thing we’ve found in the industry is Web sites are now turning into an area where for a very low cost dollar amount, it’s a way for cities and counties and hospitals to market themselves. With health care, they don’t have the type of funds that they once had,”” said Joe Nagrant, sales and business development manager for Idetix.

North York General had already been in the process of researching content management systems when SARS struck the region. The difficulty of getting current, accurate information out during the crisis drove home the need for something more accessible and immediate.

“”It really emphasized the value that a tool like that would provide so that we could leverage our intranet,”” said Hart, who noted that the SARS crisis emphasized the importance of allowing a variety of users to be able to provide current information.

“”Things used to be centrally managed by the IS department, which I think is the case in a lot of organizations,”” he said. “”When you need content to be updated you almost need a dedicated resource, so to be able to kind of empower our end users and have them mange the content is kind of great.””

Revize allows institutions — or their IT departments more specifically — to designate content contributors who can be assigned a variety of authorship privileges, actions or restrictions, or “”Web spaces”” where they can add content.

“”That person doesn’t necessarily have to be technically savvy, there’s no HTML coding, there’s nothing like that, it’s all template based and kind of driven by the system,”” said Hart, who has currently designated four content contributors within the hospital. “”We’ll provide the tech and tools and the access to them, but we really want departments to envision the content and how it’s going to look.””

There are plans for the system at NYGH to become fully integrated with the hospital’s online LDAP directory in the near future, which will allow more seamless authentication to the software.

Internal content is protected from the outside world via firewall.

“”What we do is we install Revize on a traditional application or fileserver behind the firewall of the hospital,”” said Nagrant.

The system has already reduced paperwork and its associated costs within the hospital.

“”One of the more interesting stories is in our laboratory. They have a newsletter that’s in paper format, and what we’ve been able to do with Revize for them is create an online format. We have a publication that we used to send out on paper called Newsline, and that’s completely online now and that’s updated weekly.”” said Hart, who said other site content included announcements of new staff, letters from the president, and information about training sessions.

Ease-of-use and cost remain key to Revize’s success in the public sector.

“”(With) most solutions that are in the market you have to purchase an additional database, you have to get professional services in to integrate a database into that environment. We’ve already integrated those things so that it installs in about a half an hour and all you really have to do is install your templates and it’s up and running,”” said Nagrant.

Hart says Revize was the easy choice for NYGH because of its value.

“”The price point in relation to the functionality,”” was the deciding factor, said Hart.

“”I couldn’t find anything that would beat it. The fact that it integrated with Dreamweaver, and our ability to accommodate the LDAP integration, those were basically the key points that led us to go with Revize.

“”They’ve really taken to it,”” adds Hart about hospital staff. “”Almost daily our homepage is changing with current information about what’s happening at the hospital. As things change like locations for training sessions, that’s updated as well. It’s been an amazing experience””

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