“Decoupled” experience platforms and healthcare: The evolving opportunities

SVP Valtech Health
Valtech North America

april 15, 2024

Composable DXP and headless delivery change the game in significant ways

The way digital experiences are powered is rapidly changing as organizations adopt “Composable DXP” alternatives, allowing for mixing-and-matching best-of-breed components, much faster headless experiences, and the potential for a more tailored approach for the business. (For a quick definition of Composable DXP and Headless, click those links). In these architectures, a solution might combine headless CMS (like Contenful or Contentstack), a digital asset management platform, a customer data platform, personalization agents, form management, and a custom headless site render application with and edge hosting service—fit to purpose components, possibly chosen from all different vendors. There is tremendous improvement to be had over the traditional approach, but the move away from monolithic “platforms” to component-based solutions has varied implications for different operations’ use cases, regulatory environments, and business types. It is far from “one size fits all.”

As we delve into this intricate subject, our aim is to shed some light on where these technologies excel and where they present limitations, helping healthcare CMOs, CIOs, and directors of digital to discern how these innovations fit into their ecosystems and businesses. This exploration seeks to guide you through the complexities, offering insights into the strategic integration of these technologies across various sectors of healthcare.

Flexibility and added complexity, a dual edged sword

Composable DXPs, with their microservices, API-first, cloud-native, and super-fast headless experience, offer unprecedented performance, flexibility and adaptability.

However, this agility comes with its own set of challenges.

For highly regulated industries, composable introduces the possibility of a plethora of vendors, each with their own regulatory/security profiles and willingness to sign legal agreements on privacy. So, the very “open vendor” nature of composable can complicate the business of getting to air-tight technical security and legal protections. You’re suddenly responsible yourself for ensuring your collective stack is compliant and fit for purpose (to regulation).

There are also some relevant changes to digital operations that are important to understand.

Because the “head” (experience rendering by channel or site) of such architectures is not innately coupled to the content management piece, some of the digital operations comforts of the previous monolithic platforms are turning out to be difficult (though not impossible) to achieve. For individual site or channel management, this can represent challenges. Therefore, how important the usability of these elements is to the specific business ends up being a crucial point.

First, features for managing complex site structure, associated permissions, site structure variations for localization, and the like all have varied use cases between a larger, multi-market or institutional site (like a hospital system) and a more streamlined site (like a launch site for a new drug). Where the needs are on that continuum matter a lot.

Second, important “page composition” futures where diverse components can be mixed and matched on page. This feature has been key to digital teams having a broader set of options to create new experiences on the fly (think custom, fit-to-purpose marketing landing pages, or complex service description pages). Having an intuitive, visually “coupled” way to assemble pages from ad hoc components can have different implications across architectures.

Key content management vendors are working to address these two areas of difference, but they are swimming upstream against the decoupled and often multi-vendor compatibility issues to achieve them.


Consumer healthcare: Tailoring better patient experiences amidst privacy concerns

In consumer healthcare, including hospital systems and retail medicine, MACH and Composable DXPs can absolutely revolutionize patient engagement. For instance, a headless CMS can enable personalized content delivery across various channels, significantly improving patient experience and engagement with dramatically improved speed and organic search. For instance, with an appropriate composable DXP, managing blindingly fast web sites, having content appearing in multiple forms in multiple channels, and delivering a HIPAA-safe, personalized experience at the same speed as default experiences is much more achievable—which is a long-delayed wish list for digital practice. However, with all this opportunity comes some important changes that need to be understood.

For streamlined retail medicine experiences and some health insurance experiences, sites have less varied content experience overhead and as a result, site tree management is less of a focus; for hospital systems, academic medicine, children’s hospitals, etc. it is a key feature that needs the highest usability. In general, all healthcare marketing makes great use of page assembly.

For all consumer healthcare with the right best-of-breed CDP and personalization agents, it is possible to deliver personalized, privacy-aware experiences with almost no difference in speed. Since late 2022 HIPAA, any online behavioral tracking for healthcare providers or insurers has been considered protected information in the U.S. Further, other countries are subject to GDPR, PIPEDA and UK’s Data Protection Act 2018. These have upped the level of considerations for these technologies considerably, and different vendors have responded to regulation at different levels of sophistication.

However, in composable, integrating systems from various vendors can complicate HIPAA compliance, requiring rigorous data protection measures to ensure the privacy and security of patient information. Furthermore, managing complex site structures, such as those in large hospital systems with multiple departments and services, poses significant challenges. This requires sophisticated strategies for organizing and deploying content in a way that is both accessible to patients and manageable for healthcare providers, balancing the need for personalization with the imperative of privacy.

So, the choice to adopt composable architecture in consumer healthcare really turns on the degree of complexity of site structures that need constant attention, and navigating the HIPAA/privacy legalities and architectures across multiple vendors. In some cases, legacy “all-in-one” platforms currently better address some of these concerns (plus or minus faster headless rendering).


Navigating regulations and reaching key audiences in pharma

For the U.S. pharmaceutical sector, the focus shifts towards engaging potential patients, healthcare providers, regulatory bodies and the public. Here, Composable DXP platforms offer the speed and agility to present streamlined, compliant information and drug advertisements across multiple channels.

A practical example is the deployment of targeted educational campaigns for healthcare providers about new medications, leveraging API-first solutions to deliver information seamlessly in a personalized manner across apps and websites, enhancing reach and impact. With the emergence of generative AI, the dream of even more finely grained personalization becomes possible, and with the fit-to-purpose tools available in composable, it becomes operationally possible.

In general, pharma and life-sciences need the same page composition services as other marketing-intensive industries, which can play out differently in composable across different vendor choices and architecture—an area for attention when designing the solution. Many pharma business cases do not require ever-changing management of complex tree structures, putting less pressure on the usability of those features.

The integration of these composable technologies in pharma faces hurdles like ensuring enterprise readiness and adhering to strict privacy regulations across multiple vendors. Pharma companies must navigate the complex regulatory landscape while leveraging these mutli-component capabilities for personalization and SEO, crucial for public-facing drug information. The degree of governance, and how it maps to different parts of the solution is a key area for exploration.

Success for medical device companies found in B2B tactics

Medical device companies face the same sort of regulatory and digital operations questions as pharmaceutical companies, albeit with slightly less intensity. However, there are other considerations because medical device companies often operate within different modes of B2B selling and ecommerce.

In the medical device sector, the audience shifts to hospitals, healthcare institutions and occasionally patients. The best Composable DXPs can significantly enhance the performance B2B commerce experiences, offering dynamic and personalized engagement strategies for hospital procurement teams. For example, a headless commerce platform can facilitate a more interactive and customized online catalog and supporting content, allowing hospitals to explore and compare device specifications tailored to their specific needs, streamlining the purchasing process.

However, the complexity of integrating these platforms into existing sales and distribution channels presents a notable challenge. Medical device manufacturers must ensure that their digital platforms are not only effective in engaging hospital decision-makers but also integrated with backend systems for inventory, logistics and customer service, ensuring a seamless and efficient procurement process.

Digital healthcare and Composable DXP evolution

As we navigate the complexities of these architectures, it's clear that the composable landscape is still in a state of evolutions. The challenges of today for these platforms, such as managing complex site structure management and ad hoc page composition, are likely to see innovative solutions tomorrow, further broadening the applicability of these technologies across healthcare. On the other hand, the issue of the regulatory compliance and security of different components of the composable solution is likely evergreen, and not going anywhere.

In summary, the integration of these solutions in healthcare offers a promising path forward for many types of organizations, with the potential to transform patient engagement, streamline operations, and ensure data privacy and security. However, navigating their complexities requires a thoughtful approach, tailored to the specific needs and challenges of each sector, especially around digital operations usability and regulatory compliance. As we look to the future, the potential of these technologies to reshape healthcare digital operations is immense, promising a more connected, personalized and efficient healthcare ecosystems.


What is your best healthcare DXP roadmap?

At Valtech, we understand the nuances of integrating these architectures within the healthcare sector. Our approach is rooted in a deep understanding of the technology and a commitment to addressing the unique challenges and opportunities it presents. As the landscape evolves, so too does our strategy, ensuring that our healthcare partners are always at the cutting edge of digital innovation. However, the practices necessary to navigate those compliance aspects are likely to get easier the longer an organization is involved in Composable DXP as these topics become more familiar.

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