Healthcare organisations should use commercial content marketing techniques to inform, engage, and inspire their audiences. It’s part of an integrated approach to marketing digital health and can help the NHS, private healthcare providers, pharmaceutical companies, and medical device manufacturers to build human connections.
The key to engaging your audience is to develop creative healthcare content ideas that are shaped around your audience. Instead of relying on tried and tested techniques, healthcare organisations should get a bit bolder and use content like commercial businesses do.
Instead of always selling, they focus on brand building, helping their customers and core audiences to understand what their brand stands for. They can also educate their customers, helping them to learn how to use their products and services most effectively.
We’re going to provide several creative healthcare content ideas that illustrate the power and potential of content marketing. You can use these examples as inspiration for developing your campaigns, or get in touch to work with our expert healthcare marketing team.
What is healthcare content?
Healthcare content marketing uses a range of channels to speak directly to key audiences. In many cases, the audience will be patients, but it could be broader, including clinicians, other service providers, key stakeholders, and the general public.
All content campaigns are driven by a purpose. Some of the reasons you may want to invest in content marketing include:
- Providing clear information on service opening times and availability
- Offering advice on common healthcare conditions
- Launching a new healthcare service, pathway, or facility
- Promoting a new healthcare app
- Supporting them to make better healthcare decisions
- Breaking down barriers and ensuring equity of access to healthcare services
When we talk about content marketing, we mean these digital marketing channels:
- Patient communications materials, including leaflets
Content marketing involves a deep understanding of your audience and an insight into their content preferences and the channels that they are using.
We’ve covered the basics of what healthcare content marketing is, the channels you can use, and the impact it can have in our guide.
To bring this to life, here are some healthcare content examples, including patient education content, service change messages, and health campaigns.
Creative healthcare content ideas
Here are 11 creative healthcare content ideas to break you out of your content production rut. You can use these independently or combine them as part of a healthcare digital marketing campaign.
Building a patient microsite
On the surface of it, this isn’t creative – but it’s all in the execution. Patient microsites and portals are a pretty standard way to share health information and advice, but using commercial tactics and approaches can be highly effective.
In one example, we built a patient-focused website that integrated with social media channels (primarily Facebook) as a repository for information on atrial fibrillation. There was a mechanism for people to share questions through social media, with the team producing content in direct response to these requirements.
While NHS organisations have strict controls over the brand, there are still ways to be creative within this – if you know how far you can push the creative.
Storytelling through patient journeys
We’re used to reading case studies, but they don’t always capture the complexity of the patient experience. Instead of starting at the end, why not follow patients as they interact with your service? You can build specific patient journey stories that are tailored to each of your digital marketing personas.
Storytelling works when you can build them around real people. At 42group, we encourage all our clients to use every opportunity to capture content at every stage of the process.
For example, if you’re planning the promotional launch of a new hospital, you could follow several patients through the process. You can capture the excitement of a new hospital build through videos, written content, and photography. Following patients through a process (receiving a new treatment, for example) enables people to build a relationship with your content.
Interactive service finder
Some of the team at 42group were involved in building the NHS’s first ever interactive service finder app all the way back in 2013. The principle of the app was a mechanism to connect people with the most appropriate services, raising awareness of alternatives to A&E. The app was highly successful, and the concept now a part of the NHS digital marketing approach.
Why are we telling you this? The NHS service finder app worked as it provided health infomation that people want when they want it. While much of the health information people need is online, it’s often hard to unpick it. Ask a non-NHS person if they know the difference between an A&E, urgent-care-centre, or minor injuries unit, for an illustration of how confusing the health system can be.
Service finders are effective at helping patients to understand the different health services avaialble. This could be the NHS, but it could also be part of a private healthcare providers digital marketing approach.
Service finders can work visually (as infographics), as animations, as online click-through websites, or as apps. The fundamental principle is about making it as easy as possible for people to find the services they need.
Creating an online community
A lot of healthcare digital marketing campaigns are passive, with organisations broadcasting content, but not necessarily engaging communities. Creating online communities is a highly effective and valuable marketing strategy, particularly for new healthcare launches, treatments, or medical devices.
We have supported online community creation projects on social media, with groups created on Facebook and Twitter (now X). Online communities can take significant effort to create, but once established, grow rapidly and often become self-regulating.
Online communities are powerful, and provide a direct connection between an organisation and its audience. It’s a resource-intensive marketing strategy, but it’s highly effective.
User-generated content campaigns:
User-generated content is what social media is all about. Engaging patients, stakeholders, and other audiences in creating content is powerful.
You can connect user-generated content to storytelling. You can encourage (and incentivise) patients to to share their own content, such as photos or stories, using your products or services over social media, for example.
When creating content campaigns, we go through a process of social listening, where we investigate what your audience is interested in. We aim to capture key questions, pain points, and motivators. In some cases, we create a campaign to generate content from your audience, which can influence our social media, digital marketing, and SEO campaigns.
Interactive infographics and data visualisations:
As a content-focused SEO agency, we’re all about the words – but we understand the value of turning complex information, data and concepts into engaging and interactive infographics, animations, or films.
We know that people won’t always read or engage with written content, and many prefer interactive content like infographics and animations. We’ve worked with a large range of healthcare clients, incldugin Alder Hey Hospital, and Haven’s Hospices, to create this type of material for websites, social media, presentations, and other collateral their organsiations need.
Data visualisations are an incredibly powerful tool for bringing patient pathways to life. You can highlight the way that
Give your audience a peek behind the curtain of your business. This could include day-in-the-life videos of employees, following patients, or explaining the story or your organisation.
We’re all searching for authenticity from the brands we buy from and the organisatons we work with. Being open, honest, and transparent is very powerful and effective.
For instance, we’ve worked with pharmaceutical companies developing smokefree products. Despite the efficacy of these products, they’re not always effective – with smokers needing several attempts to kick the habit. Taking people behind the scenes and helping the understand the complexity of an addiction like smoking creates much more meaningful content than simply stating brand messages.
E-books and guides:
When promoting a new product, drug, or treatment we know people want the detail. We recommend brands invest in createing comprehensive guides and e-books directly focused on the common questions, concerns, and interests of your audience.
Too much information is kept behind walls (or shared as PDFs), which we don’t always agree with. People and patients shouldn’t be held to ransom and forced to offer their email address to get a download. We recommend that all whitepaper content is hosted on your site and accessible by all. Not only does this give everyone access to all the information they need, it can have a significant and positive impact on SEO.
Direct marketing (email and letters)
Someitmes we have to look back to look forward. Direct mail is epxenvie and unfocused, but it can still be highly effective.
Commercial organisations can use customer data to create highly personalised email content. Powered by your website, you can share content you’ve created directly with people it’s for. Email content can also help you build a community and help you with your user-generated content
In the UK, we’ve got a rapidly ageinc population that may not have access online, or confidence in engaging this way. While there’s a huge push to go online, traditional direct marketing through mail drops can still get incredible results in improving awareness, providing patient education, and increasing engagement.
Gamify services with interactive quizzes and assessments
Interactive quizzes and assessments are not only enjoyable but also highly educational. By incorporating gamification elements into your healthcare content, you can encourage patients to engage with your organisation or brand withouth being given the hard sell.
Fore example, imagine a healthcare website that offers an interactive quiz to help individuals assess their stress levels. The quiz could consist of a series of questions that prompt users to reflect on their daily routines, emotions, and coping mechanisms. Based on their responses, the quiz could provide personalised recommendations for stress management techniques, such as deep breathing exercises or mindfulness practices.
This approach makes learning new techniques enjoyable, with much higher engagement than passive content. For many commercial businesses, this approach is part of a brand building strategy – building a positive image of you, your brand, and business.
Personalised health tips and advice
Personalisation is key to engaging your audience (and the future of medicine, but that’s another blog post altogether). By providing tailored health tips and advice based on individual needs, you can establish a stronger connection with the people you want to connect with.
Personalisation works for whatever area of healthcare you’re working in. Whether it’s giving fitness routines, healthy recipes, or stress management techniques, personalisation should be a priority in your content.
For example, imagine a healthcare blog that offers personalised fitness routines based on the reader’s specific goals and fitness level. The blog could provide detailed workout plans, complete with instructional videos and expert tips. As well as exercise, there could be nutrition tips, and advice on living a healthy lifestyle.
It it hard? Not really. While everyone wants to feel unique, we can all be categorised pretty easily enabling us to create bespoke content that appears personalised, but is actually fairly generic.
Healthcare marketers should be bold(er)
Healthcare marketers have traditionally been conservative in their approach, but they need to become more commercial. Of course, there are strict rules and regulations about what’s appropriate and allowed, but we urge the industry to start being more creative – and we can help.
Want creative healthcare content ideas?
At 42group, we’re a healthcare content marketing agency that’s all about creativity. We work with leading healthcare brands, pharma businesses, charities, and the NHS to create campaigns that cut through the noise, and help build human connections.
If you have a project you want to discuss or just want to learn more about us, then get in touch.
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