Case Studies

Decision Resources Group Case Study

DRG_logoDRG is a global information and technology services company that provides proprietary data and solutions to the healthcare industry, bringing together best-in-class companies to provide end-to-end solutions to complex challenges in healthcare.


Healthcare is a fast-moving industry, with new drugs, developments and discoveries arriving every day. Keeping information and reports up-to-date is business-critical for healthcare information providers such as DRG, whose clients rely on it to provide reliable and accurate data.

DRG’s existing way of working was to produce extensive reports which were purchased individually by its consumers. These could only be updated manually – a lengthy and complex process which failed to deliver the immediacy which the modern consumer expects. DRG were constrained by this linear way of working, which prevented editors from easily sourcing and reusing existing content.

Another key driver for DRG was the desire to move from a transactional model of selling (users purchasing individual reports) to a subscription model, which would allow for the report data customers had purchased to be constantly updated and renewed.

To meet these needs, DRG wished to find a way to realise event-driven publishing, which would allow it to capture new or updated information and immediately publish it, or incorporate it as updated content into existing, assembled products. 

DRG also wished to drive up revenues by surfacing relevant content and products wherever possible, creating opportunities for through-selling and ensuring that it could maximize the value of each content asset.

With no central repository for content, multiple delivery platforms, and multiple authoring inputs (including Word, Powerpoint, Excel, and two editions of Kentico CMS), the process of creating, assembling, updating and publishing content was fragmented and time-consuming. Once created, content was difficult to search and navigate, could not be edited or actioned in bulk, and lacked the context necessary to derive extra meaning from the data or reuse the data in a different way.

DRG wanted to find ways to increase automation of content production, in order to drive efficiencies and achieve consistency of product structure. This would also enable transparent overview of how all content was being used, enabling deep-dive analysis of information.


In order to design a solution that could fulfil DRG’s requirements, Ixxus carried out an intensive initial five-week Discovery phase in May 2015. This phase allows Ixxus to develop a deep understanding of the organizations it works with, and then provide tailored advice based on its industry experience and expertise. The goal is to create an agreed high level roadmap with the client, but with a key focus on a minimum viable product (MVP), the priority being to deliver highest business value at the earliest opportunity.

After identifying a list of specialist requirements, Ixxus defined and delivered the MVP within 4 months, as a Phase 1. Phase 2 developed additional enrichment and functionality, and Phase 3 commenced in early 2016.


Technologies integrated

Ixxus Publishing Modules

  • Alfresco
  • Drupal
  • LinkTo
  • Collections
  • Bulk Metadata
  • Bulk Upload
  • Folder Enhancements
  • Two-Way Association

Ixxus used Alfresco ECM to create a ‘single source of truth’ content repository, allowing for automation of workflows, bulk content actions, simplified content discovery and reuse, and advanced semantic linking across content. Once content has been authored it is then enriched in Alfresco, and pushed out as a product manifest to DRG’s Drupal front-end.

DRG Screenshot 1

Search & Discovery, Content Reuse

Key to the DRG project was decoupling content from product, by storing content in a granular HTML format and developing a sophisticated content model.

After being migrated into Alfresco, DRG’s existing content is enhanced with metadata and taxonomy enrichment, which will support discovery and resurfacing of content. This provides major benefits:

  • Content-to-content linking: Users can create associations not only between content manifests but also between chunks of content (such as drugs or medications), building up a semantic network of linked content.
  • Reassembling known content into new products: Existing content assets can be easily discovered during the process of product assembly, opening up new use-cases for a particular piece of content and increasing its value. This includes:
    • User-defined products: Managing content in this way opens up the potential for users to curate their own content sets on-the-fly; a powerful service which can tailor reports to precise needs.
    • Future-proofing: Granular content is imbued with the flexibility that will allow it to easily become part of future platforms, services and products.
  • Resurfacing existing content to new audiences: By serving up semantically-linked and associated content to consumers as “related content”, DRG can cross-sell other products and subscriptions.
  • Analysis and reports: Gaining semantic insight into content associations makes it straight-forward to build insightful reports on a particular drug, disease or company.
  • Powerful search: Internal users can find the exact piece of content they’re looking for – whether that’s a report, a chapter, a paragraph, etc.
DRG Screenshot 2

Moving forward, the future goal will be to author and assemble all new content within Alfresco, automating enrichment at the same time. As a transitional measure, Alfresco has been integrated with DRG’s existing Kentico CMS, where content is authored and then pushed to Alfresco for addition of metadata and restructuring into products for the Drupal front-end.

“The automated product assembly solution in particular was a major efficiency win for DRG,” said Mickel Phung, Principal Analyst at DRG, “One of our legacy products required that we create and maintain 2,500 reports with continuously changing content. Creating these by hand would have taken an hour each, but with the automated product assembly, we can generate or update the full batch within a business day. This automated approach also allows us to create much more complex, dynamic content to visualize our data to clients, as we greatly reduce the risk of error generating these in bulk. Personally, I’ve re-generated the entire series of reports a dozen times in the past few months, representing a time savings of thousands of hours. The automated product assembly solution has been a major contributor to DRG hitting our project milestones. The Ixxus team has certainly delivered and I’d love to work with them again in the future!”

Content-to-content linking

Ixxus created an advanced content model which allows DRG to store and manage their information as units of semantic information. Drugs are stored as objects, which can be linked and associated with other semantic objects; such as molecular make-up, therapy area, and affiliated companies. This creates a powerful network of linked data, giving wider context to treatments, diseases, medications and marketing.

DRG Screenshot 4

For instance:

  • Users can navigate to a particular disease and it will say what it’s treated by and which reports it is included in.
  • Users can navigate to a particular medication and see which molecules it is composed of, what it treats, which reports it’s mentioned in and who it’s currently marketed by.
  • Users can navigate to a particular company, and see which medications it is marketing.

Digital transformation

Digital transformation is not just about technological change; it is also about business change, and how the new technology impacts upon people and processes. By developing an early understanding of how DRG’s users work, and involving them collaboratively and transparently throughout the process, we could ensure that we delivered a solution which they understood and were invested in.

 By moving to a “content-first” strategy, Ixxus was able to focus on delivering flexibility and future agility, giving DRG the tools to respond quickly to market shifts and rapidly develop new products and services.

Project Accelerators: Ixxus Publishing Modules

A range of Ixxus’ proprietary publishing modules were integrated into the DRG solution. These tried-and-tested tools are designed to meet common publishing challenges, deliver rapid business value and accelerate delivery timescales; in the DRG project, six IPMs were implemented, giving DRG tried-and-tested functionality that would rapidly deliver results.

Collections: This intuitive user interface simplifies report assembly for DRG by providing drag & drop collation and curation of content objects. Folder enhancements was added alongside to give extra customizability, ordering and structuring options when assembling a product.

Bulk File and Metadata Upload were integrated to make updates across multiple files and associated metadata actionable at the same time. This is helping move DRG toward its goal of event-driven publishing, incorporating new or updated information into existing products easily to ensure they remain up to date.

Link-to and Two Way Associations are instrumental in building links and relationships between and alongside content objects, allowing users to navigate through taxonomies and ontologies of linked content and associated metadata (see Content-to-Content Linking).


The final platform has a planned go-live date of June 2016, with internal users spanning the US, Canada and India.

By the end of the projected roadmap, DRG will have undergone a business transformation. Content will no longer be created as linear reports within product silos, but as part of a collaborative supply chain where granular, product-agnostic content blocks can be rapidly and flexibly assembled into new products and services.

Allied to this, DRG will have unrivalled insight into the context surrounding each information object, linking objects together to create a rich picture of the healthcare and medical landscape.

Sarah Buck, Vice President of Product Development, said, “We chose Ixxus following glowing references which emphasized how the Ixxus team really knows what it’s talking about when it comes to content and publishing – and we weren’t disappointed! Ixxus is the best development partner we have worked with.”


Date Published : 15th of April 2016