1st February 2023

Top Healthcare Marketing Predictions For This Year


We’ve been working on marketing campaigns in the healthcare sector for almost two decades. Like many industries, healthcare and marketing have seen huge changes over this time.

In this blog we’ve captured the biggest trends that we believe will have the biggest impact on healthcare marketing, advertising, digital and communications in the coming year.

Optimising digital patient experience

With the adoption of digital healthcare across all demographics, patients' digital experience (PDX) on your app or website is becoming a higher priority across the healthcare sector. Patients' expectations of health products and services have changed. Patients want fast, intuitive and frictionless access to information and care.

Healthcare providers should enable patients to communicate with a brand through their preferred channel, whether it's via online chat, text message, email or phone. Your website or app should be simple to navigate and load information fast. This is no mean feat and there’s many components to achieving this seemingly straightforward task:

  • Simple navigation that allows speedy access - patients should never be 2-3 clicks from anywhere on your site.
  • Responsive to different devices and displays so that information and links are prominent. For smaller devices like mobile phones, links can display as icons rather than words
  • Content that is visually appealing (human, emotional, relatable)

We’ve used data from Mouseflow, Google Analytics, Adwords and Search Console to create an optimal patient experience on our client’s website, Cardinal Clinic.

Optimising Patient Experience

SEO has evolved

SEO used to just be a way to steer patients to your practice website, however it has evolved to become an intrinsic part of the broader patient experience. As mentioned above, optimal  PDX has a big impact on your SEO.

Patients and their carers or family use search engines like Google to search for information about symptoms and conditions, treatments and clinicians. In part they’re attempting to self diagnose, but also they’ll be comparing and contrasting a particular service or specialist. 

Patients seek out informative content to answer general or specific questions about their health or condition for a variety of reasons. Google tries to anticipate the answer to a specific web search, and will often display a “Featured Snippet”.


Or Google will display other helpful questions and answers via the “People also ask” SERP feature.


Here’s something you may not know: nearly have of Gen Z are using TikTok and Instagram to search for information. So optimising your posts with keywords is crucial for discovery.

Healthcare providers can benefit from this SEO trend in healthcare marketing by crafting content that is informative and authoritative. There are many ways patients can find you online so make sure your target keywords and well-researched and used across all of your search (and social) channels.

Digital health is mainstream

Digital healthcare or Telehealth is becoming more mainstream to help GP and surgeries cope with staff shortages and increased demand. However, most NHS surgeries are still struggling to keep up. Private and virtual GPs are growing to compete with the big pay-as-you-go healthcare operators.

The NHS winter crisis triggered a fivefold increase in patients accessing private health cover for GP and dental appointments. UK Health insurer, Vitality, reported claims for primary care service including GP appointments rose 374% between 2018 and 2022. Similarly, Aviva saw the number of people registering for app-based GP services rise by around 70% in 2022. Dentistry and physiotherapy appointments were also up 411% and 343% respectively.

The technological advancement and increased competition, plus the meteoric rise of app-based primary health services, make access to healthcare more affordable and accessible by eliminating the need to visit an NHS GP at a brick-and-mortar clinic.

When showcasing online health services in your marketing, ensure that it's clear this isn’t the only option for healthcare. Instead, explain that digital health is one of several care pathways you provide to meet your patients’ healthcare needs.

As discussed earlier in this article the patient experience on your app is crucial, as is the sophistication of your SEO efforts.

Digital Healthcare

Investing in healthcare brand

Renowned marketer Les Binet defines brand building as the building and maintenance of memories that have a lasting influence on consumer (or in this case, patient) behaviour.

In any highly competitive market where some products are becoming commoditised, branding becomes incredibly important. As online GP appointments and video consultations become the norm, healthcare brands that are top of mind will win. The more salient your brand the more likely a patient is to choose your healthcare services when they need them.

Brand building is hard and takes longer than performance campaigns because you're attempting to change a patient's mind, sometimes when they aren't ill and do not need care. The effectiveness of brand building on patient enquiries can be small at first and can take time to grow. However, with constant investment and repetition, brand-building activity (for example video, blogging, SEO, OOH, PR) can have large sales effects that tend to last much longer.

Investing in your brand is increasing the value of your business over the long term. The payback may not be as fast as a pay-per-click ad or an email but it is longer lasting and leads to a higher ROI over the longer term.

Brand Building

Attribution modeling vs Marketing Mix Measurement (MMM)

Like most industries, healthcare marketing has overly relied on click-based measurement for years. This is in part because Google and Facebook have made it really easy to join the dots between an ad on their platform and a website visitor.

Unfortunately, patient user journeys are a lot more complex than this. There are many stages to a patient journey and this starts before they are ill or need a service. Once patients need non-emergency treatment, there’s the information-gathering phase followed by a comparison of the options available. These stages of research can span social media, search engines, and talking to friends, family, and colleagues. So only focusing on Click Through Rate (CTR) on Google, or other last-click attribution models can skew your evaluation of a channel’s effect on results and marketing budget allocation.

Marketing Mix Modelling means reviewing all of your channels and measuring them in a way that is accurate and not too skewed toward the last click. You will need a range of methods to best evaluate each channel (Google and Facebook ads will overestimate their contributions to success).

A good way we’ve found to measure brand uplift is Share of Search. Marketing Week says: 

“Share of search is based on Google Trends search data and is defined by the number of searches a brand receives divided by the searches for all brands within a competitor set over a six to 12-month rolling period.”

This is a proxy for Share of Voice, which is a leading indicator of future market share. Essentially, the more you can invest in building your share of voice the more market share you will gain. And you can measure this by tracking Share of Search. The app we use and recommend at Big Cat is MyTelescope.

The graph below by Les Binet shows the relationship (and lag) between Share of Search and Market Share.

Les Binet

Patients are seeking social proof

Behavioural Science

Patients seek out social proof prior to contacting a healthcare provider. As part of the information gathering and competitor comparison phase of the patient journey, reviews from previous patients have a strong influence on the purchasing process.

Positive reviews will build trust with patients and attract new ones. And it follows that a number of negative reviews will deter patients and push them toward a competitor. Proactively asking patients for reviews either in person or in follow-up communications, along with a link to your preferred platform will drive more reviews. Take negative reviews serious and take action on any issues.

Patient stories and testimonials are another form of social proof that potential patients will use to influence their decision. This content should be hosted on your homepage and treatment pages shared on your social media platforms and email communications.

Social and video

Social Media Healthcare

As healthcare becomes more consumerised, social media has become a crucial channel in healthcare communication. Patients and potential patients approach healthcare with a consumer mindset. Social media has matured and fragmented so the platforms brands use vary depending on the target market and objective.

The effect of online video and video content on social media is often underestimated by healthcare marketers because it does not encourage clicks. However, with its unique ability to tell brand and human stories, video content has one of the highest engagement rates and massively improves memorability of healthcare brands.

One of the biggest trends in social and video for 2023 is UGC (aka user-generated content). Numerous studies revealed that around 80% of consumers say UGC influences their purchase decisions. Most brands don’t have a library of UGC, or an in-house team to create it, which is where UGC Creators come in.

UGC creators get paid to create content brands. As part of an integrated content strategy, we’ve found this kind of content is highly effective for targeting young people on TikTok or Instagram. If you can get a group of creators onboard then YouTube Shorts is another video platform that has gone stratospheric with an average of 30 billion views per day.

Like any freelancer, a clear brief is essential. Here’s our guide to writing a creative brief.

All of the healthcare marketing trends discussed in this blog will have a huge impact in 2023 and beyond. Investing in your brand and optimising your digital patient experience will be a critical to the success of UK healthcare marketing in the year ahead.

If your organisation is looking for advice or guidance on taking your marketing to the next level, Big Cat can help. Big Cat improves the effectiveness of marketing communications programmes by understanding the patient and marketing mix to build the most effective and memorable campaigns. Drop us a line at [email protected].

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