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By Joanna Ptolomey


If ever there was an overly used phrase, sometimes accompanied without much substance, it is content is king. Look into your users' eyes - say it and mean it.

Let me explain from the perspective of my own personal content silo in healthcare this last couple of weeks.

I have attended and engaged in DigiPharm and a Patient Information Forum event, worked on an addictions literature review proposal, and discussed a forthcoming project for content curation in health improvement and healthy living. In all these "content is king" has been the top phrase used again and again but without (in my opinion) addressing the processes, content silos and culture that need to change.

The Patient Information Forum (PIF) event started with a great patient story (my user) – a man accurately described his journey through an acute clinical situation, into rehabilitation and back into the real world. His road to recovery is ongoing. His content needs have been ongoing and ever changing.

What is important is that he doesn’t differentiate types of content, where they may come from and what they will look like. Problem – he is caught in a system where content comes from many providers mainly working in their own silos where partnership is a difficult and a sometimes acrimonious task.

Quality assured (QA) content is the number one requirement on the healthcare provider content agenda; the PIF event underpinned this again and again with many of speakers talking only of quality assured content. But if providers really did listen to people, like the opening speaker and the wider healthcare provider sector, then they would realise that QA content is only a part of the content equation.

But hey, that would require working in real partnership and in many cases changing the culture of major healthcare stakeholders and providers. That seems like hard work.

DigiPharm also broadcast the message of content being king – and, with respect, pharmaceutical industry, this is hardly breaking news. Kai Gait, a speaker, reminded us that healthcare providers should do the right thing by using some simple questions to guide actions and workflows  – why do we do what we do, who is it for and ultimately what we do want?

In healthcare – whether a pharmaceutical company, a healthcare provider, a doctor or nurse, or an information professional, we want better health outcomes for the people of the world. People should live longer, healthier and safer lives. Oh dear that does seem like a lot of work.

So ask yourself and your industry – why should your content be king? Start today by breaking down the silos of your content. Yes I grant silos may be easier for you and your company to manage; it may even be your cosy blanket or get out of jail card for not changing industry culture.

Oversimplistic view? I work with the ultimate stakeholder – people – and I have decided I need a sledgehammer and a precise scalpel for shaping how my industry content silos are managed. What about you?


About this item:

Joanna is a freelance information consultant and analyst. She started her career in information as a clinical librarian in the NHS before moving to global consultancy group DTZ. Prior to working in the information sector Joanna was a project planning engineer in the construction industry for 10 years.

She hopes to help people use information for assessing risk, making decisions and in governance. She is particularly interested in inequalities issues such as accessibility, information literacy and the information divide especially in the healthcare sector. She is the author of a chapter 'Digital divide and accessibility' in Government Information Management in the 21st Century. She is also the author of the book Taking charge of your career: a guide for library and information professionals.

You can follow Joanna on Twitter.

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