Write Once, Distribute Many: Part Deux

Reaching the people for whom documents are intended is no longer “merely” a matter of sending Word files to the right email addresses, putting books and magazines in the right stores, and/or mailing catalogs to the right houses.

Instead, it’s increasingly about making content available anywhere and everywhere a targeted reader might be – including places where printed material may not be handy or even preferred – and doing so without having to deal with multiple workflows to repurpose the content each time.

This issue is coming to the fore because of the accelerating acceptance of Web sites, smart phones, e-book readers, and the like, which are giving readers choices in terms of searchability, portability, and convenience that they can’t get from paper and are beginning to miss when reading printed works.

Thankfully, many software solutions now exist – most using tried-and-true ECM technologies of different sorts – to facilitate the kind of multichannel distribution options people want. Transforming a document’s content so it can be delivered to and displayed on multiple devices still isn’t fully automatic, but there are a sufficient number of technical standards on tap to make the process manageable. The technology also can be acquired either as a package or on a service basis, so it is now more accessible than ever.

The result is that the business case is now emerging to make multichannel delivery a reality. Savvy corporate and publishing industry executives are waking up to the operational efficiencies, environmental effects, and financial gains that can be achieved by embracing the multichannel model. The trick now is to embrace the changes quickly and willingly lest they lose competitive ground at a time they can least afford to do so.

(More to come, here and elsewhere … stay tuned!)

Write Once, Distribute Many: The Content Publisher’s Dream

You spend days, weeks, sometimes months gathering your facts, composing your content, obtaining the necessary reviews and approvals, formatting the document, and, in most cases, either printing it to paper or creating a PDF so you can send it out.

And then the questions come:

  • I don’t really need all of this. Can you send me only the pages I care most about?
  • I’m about to get on a plane. Can I get this on my smartphone so I can read it there?
  • I’d really like my whole team to see what you wrote. Can you put it all on the Web?

Sure! you say. Love to! But who has time to reformat all that content so it displays properly on all those different media? What you really need is a tool that can take what you wrote and automatically ready it for distribution in whatever ways your readers desire.

Fortunately, such tools actually do exist, and yours truly is about to take a snapshot of ‘what is,’ ‘what could be,’ and where the benefits accrue.

Please let me know, here or via a private message, if you have any experience with multichannel publishing – good or bad – and/or if there are particular vendors you’d like me to query. Depending upon the response, I’ll let you know what I find out.

Physicians, Heal Thyselves

This wasn’t the theme of this week’s AIIM New England Chapter meeting, but it may as well have been since both guest speakers waxed eloquently about the need for, and emerging adoption of, health information systems that connect patients to their doctors, and doctors to each other.

Girish Kumar Navani of eClinicalWorks (www.eclinicalworks.com) and David Cochrane of Vermont Information Technology Leaders (www.vitl.net) held the audience captive as they led a discussion of the behavioral, psychological, and economic challenges that still bedevil efforts to improve healthcare delivery, outcomes, efficiencies, and fiscal standing. (By group agreement, the politics of the day were pushed to the side to ensure a free flow of conversation. More’s the pity!)

The net of the morning’s discourse was both liberating and frustrating, as the two speakers reported their organizations are making excellent headway in their respective arenas (one as a vendor, the other as a public/private sector partnership), and yet the state of general progress is as deliberate as ever. After the event, this observer was left with a distinct sense of “hurry up and wait” and a few possibly interesting observations:

  1. Healthcare IT of the sort described – steeped in content, communications, and collaboration management – actually works! It better engages patients, enables more effective treatment, and lowers costs.
  2. The problem is that such technology isn’t cheap, and while federal incentive programs are currently in place, it is unclear whether they are robust enough to really push such initiatives forward.
  3. Reaching critical mass likely is a function of generational change, as younger patients and medical staff are more comfortable than their older counterparts with using computers for research and communication. To see this is true, I need to look no further than my 60-ish primary care physician and his 30-something physician’s assistant, one of whom approaches the exam room PC with great gusto and the other with apparent caution. I’ll let you guess who is who!
  4. Electronic patient records, though enormously efficient in terms of portability, shareability, and storage, raise fascinating new questions about their ownership and management. As accounts of services provided, they clearly are core to the doctor’s business, but as documentation of a patient’s condition, they also are intensely personal. So who’s responsible for maintaining their existence and ensuring their accuracy?

Being only several hours long, this session was barely able to scratch the surface of some of today’s most topical and potentially explosive societal questions. Let’s keep the discourse going: what do you see as some of the biggest obstacles in healthcare IT right now? Let me know by commenting here, emailing me at sweissman@hollygroup.com, catching me on Yahoo IM: sbweissman, or tweeting me on Twitter: steveweissman.