Today, most hospitals and healthcare systems utilize some sort of content management system (CMS) to manage Web pages on their Internet sites. But in 1998, most organizations used individual HTML editors like Microsoft FrontPage and DreamWeaver to create Web pages.
The staff in the newly formed Web center (one of the first in the nation) at the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) recognized that stand-alone HTML editors were not a good long-term solution for managing complex healthcare system Web sites. To help meet the strategic goals of the organization, they developed software named Estrada CMS, which became one of the first content management systems in healthcare. Over 13 years ago, UAB leveraged this ground-breaking tool to start managing Web pages across both the clinical and academic enterprise, providing distributed authorship, content reuse, taxonomy-based relationships between pages and amongst content and building out functionality using database components. While much of this is ordinary today, at the time, it was revolutionary.
With Estrada, UAB was able to use the clinical and academic Web sites as a corporate business tool for the first time. The content production workflow and presentation templates of the CMS provided a new level of control over content quality and branding. The WYSIWYG content editor was simple enough to use that content owners could be empowered to create and maintain content on their own while still maintaining quality control at a central level. The presentation templates were some of the first to use cascading style sheets and other means of controlling look and feel in a large Web presence. In another first, the presentation layer also employed reusable page elements called “bricks,” which site managers could use to build Web sites quickly.
The CMS was offered to all units of the university and clinical areas at no cost as an incentive to move Web sites to a common platform. At its peak, the CMS managed more than 100,000 pages with over 1,000 authors across 13 schools and the academic medical center – commonplace now, but a major advance then, and helped establish UAB as a leader in Internet strategy.
Estrada, as a pioneer CMS, proved very successful and was licensed by the university to a private software development company in 1999. Over the course of the last 10 years, Estrada has been installed in over 60 hospitals and institutions of higher education.