Reducing pressure on hospitals by promoting alternative healthcare services during the festive season The season of jolly holidays and merry festivities, is unfortunately also synonymous with more ailments, seasonal illnesses, and increased hospital admissions. A&E admissions for December 2022 were higher than any month in the previous 6 month period (June – November 2022) – with an additional 106,000+ attendees than the second highest month (October 2022) in that time period. The pressure on hospitals during this time is immense, and many of the ailments treated in hospitals could be treated using alternative services, such as online doctors, phone consultations (such as NHS 111 service), or even through home-care or over the counter medication.
83% of people look to the internet to help them search for medical and healthcare providers. This not only highlights the importance of digital marketing for healthcare services year round, but indicates that these digital marketing methods can be used to potentially decrease pressure on hospitals by redirecting patients to more appropriate services during the holidays.
Digital Advertising Paid Search advertisements can be set up for queries that increase during the festive season, that usually lead users to land on hospital websites. The right strategy will redirect users to alternative healthcare services by displaying the advertisements above the hospital websites on the SERPs, increasing visibility and click-through rates.
Paid search also allows for precise audience targeting. Demographic information, user interests, and online behaviour can be used to tailor advertisements to a highly relevant audience segment. This method of targeting increases the likelihood that the most appropriate healthcare services are promoted dependent on the query.
Social Media Social media is an important cog in the Digital Marketing strategy for all industries. In the digital age, 79% of people look to social media to answer health related questions. Whilst social media should be a year round focus, there are specific posts and pieces of information that can be shared during the festive period that can help direct users to your healthcare practice if your services are needed during the holidays:
Posts informing users of appropriate services to visit for different ailments Short videos or posts detailing ‘at home’ remedies, or best over the counter products for common seasonal illnesses Communicate any changes to the healthcare service’s hours of operation during the holiday period, so that users are informed of when and where appropriate services are available Helpful Content By creating a variety of diverse content for your website, such as blogs, videos, infographics, or guides, you can share information on a variety of topics relative to the festive season. While the core messaging behind the content can be similar to that posted on social media (see above) – the lengthy nature of the mentioned content types means that you can go into further detail than what you would on a social media post.
Combining the above with organic search tactics (see below), and incorporating User Focused Content pieces into your website are additional ways to make the most of your healthcare content during the festive season.
Organic Search Search engine optimisation is a long-term strategy, so whilst there are no quick wins for SEO in the festive season, healthcare providers can include organic search tactics in their year-round strategy that will improve performance during the festive period.
Research can be done into seasonal queries or keywords that are searched more frequently during the winter months. Website content can then be tailored or optimised to focus on these keywords and queries. When curating website content, particular attention should also be paid to metadata – as this will also have an impact on organic search performance.
Mobile compatibility of websites also plays a critical role in SEO performance, so putting some effort into ensuring a mobile friendly design, a focus on core web vitals, and a seamless user experience will aid in securing those organic search rankings.
For healthcare services that rely on local people being able to easily locate them, it is important to optimise your ‘My Business Profile’ for local SEO purposes. This reinforces your local community, and potential patients, with feelings of support as they have a greater understanding of where they can find health related help during the festive season.
Final remarks A well-rounded digital marketing strategy not only serves the immediate goal of diverting patients to appropriate services during the festive season but also contributes to a broader objective of enhancing the overall accessibility and visibility of healthcare options. By embracing the potential of digital marketing, healthcare providers can better serve their communities, mitigate the strain on hospitals, and encourage a healthier and more informed society during the festive season and beyond.