Patient engagement content marketing

Use content to build connections

Patient engagement is critical in improving health outcomes, healthcare service design, and ensuring patient satisfaction. Patient engagement content marketing involves using your digital channels to engage patients, inspire them, and empower them to share their views and take charge of their care. In 2024, patient engagement marketing harnesses the power of multiple digital marketing channels to create connections. 

We know engaged patients are more likely to participate in their treatment, understand their health conditions, and make lifestyle changes needed for better outcomes. Faced with this challenge, healthcare organisations and providers like the NHS can use content marketing to identify, inform, and connect with their patients in previously impossible ways.

Content marketing isn’t a one-off activity but represents a commitment to providing patients with value through informative, relevant, and compelling content targeted at them. Do it correctly, and healthcare providers, medical device companies, MedTech leaders, and pharmaceutical businesses can build trust, demystify complex health information, and create communities of informed and engaged patients.

In this blog post, we will explore innovative content marketing strategies that you can use to enhance patient engagement. It should help you to learn the power and potential of patient engagement content marketing – and how you can adopt it for your organisation. 

Understanding patient engagement in 2024

It’s acknowledged and accepted by all healthcare organisations that the patient voice is vital in designing, delivering, and improving healthcare services.

Patient engagement is a broad term that describes the ongoing collaboration between patients and healthcare providers to improve health outcomes. At its heart, patient engagement is about empowering patients with the knowledge, skills, opportunities, and motivation to make informed decisions about their health.

Engaged patients typically experience better health outcomes. They demonstrate higher levels of satisfaction with their care. Patients are more likely to adhere to treatments and are more confident in managing their conditions. Engaged patients are also less likely to be readmitted to hospital.

There is also evidence that patient engagement is effective in improving organisational governance, which is critical for public organisations like the NHS.

Patient engagement is a core part of the NHS and forms a core part of the Long-Term Plan. Patient involvement is essential to create and maintain a modern healthcare system – and its importance is growing. 

We’re entering an era of personalised medicine, where medications and treatments can be tailored to us. Patient engagement will enable the NHS, lawmakers, and other bodies to unlock the potential of personalisation while establishing boundaries.

Patient engagement is also a core part of the marketing strategies of pharmaceutical companies, medical device manufacturers, healthtech businesses, and anyone with a direct relationship with patients and the public.

Why content marketing is a critical tool for patient engagement

Patient engagement is about creating connections – and content is an incredibly powerful tool. Content can’t – and shouldn’t – replace face-to-face patient engagement, but if used intelligently and strategically, it can play a role at every stage of the patient pathway. 

By providing targeted, relevant, and accessible content, healthcare providers can educate and empower patients, making them feel they’re in control. 

Expertly produced content can simplify complex information, like a patient pathway, for example. The team at Cancer Research UK have mastered this with their infographics, providing patients with information on cancer diagnosis, treatment, and prognosis. These infographics make it easier for patients to understand their health conditions and the care process, and that’s the priority.

Patient engagement content

Patient engagement has one clear rule: give patients what they want, where they want it. For example, expecting people over 80 to be avid social media users is not good. Instead, you must learn about your audience, content preferences, and communications priorities. 

Once you’ve built a profile (or profiles) of your audience, you can begin to explore content channels. The types of content that can be used to drive patient engagement vary widely. Healthcare content marketing can include:

  • Websites
  • Blogs
  • Patient communications materials, including leaflets
  • Whitepapers
  • Animations
  • Videos
  • Podcasts

We’re seeing greater use of social media to drive engagement, including online community building through Facebook and X. Some progressive healthcare companies use Instagram, TikTok and other social channels to engage their audience.

Before considering what content you want to produce, you must understand who your audience is – which involves lots of research, social listening, and direct engagement. 

The key to effective digital marketing is to create content that is engaging, educational, and empathetic to the needs and concerns of patients and the people you want to connect with.

If you want to learn more, you can read our healthcare content guide.

Strategies for effective patient content marketing

Want to build an effective healthcare content marketing strategy? Start by reading our guide. 

We won’t go over the fundamentals again, as we’ve already described how to create a content marketing strategy in detail. The principles of content marketing for healthcare products and services and patient engagement are broadly similar. However, we recommend a much greater focus on personalisation in patient engagement campaigns. 

Personalisation is the basis of the best and most engaging content marketing. Healthcare providers should aim to deliver content that addresses individual patient needs, concerns, and interests. As well as information, content should be presented and written in a compelling, engaging, and authentic way. 

Let’s say you’ve developed your healthcare content marketing campaign. Here are some strategies for effective patient content marketing:

  1. Focus 100% on your audience: Tailor all content to meet the needs and interests of your specific patient demographic. Use surveys, social media interactions, and patient feedback to understand their concerns, questions, and interests and reflect these in your content. This will have the dual benefit of driving better engagement and improving SEO. 
  2. Explore educational content: It’s essential that you create educational material that answers the genuine questions of patients (not what you think they want to know). This could be content that explains health conditions, treatments, or offers wellness tips in easy-to-understand ways. We’re huge fans of investing in social listening (through engaging in online communities and conversations) and asking patients directly through focus groups, interviews, and questionnaires. The more data you collect, the better your content will be.
  3. Use patient testimonials and stories: We’ve talked above about the power of real patient insights. You should ensure you share real-life stories and patient testimonials, providing a transparent and honest account of their experiences (good, bad, and indifferent). Doing so builds trust and engages patients personally, which is impossible in other ways.
  4. Intelligently select content channels: The content channels you use through your campaign should be selected for their effectiveness in engaging your core patient groups. Avoid pressure from stakeholders, managers, or even patients for channels and be guided by data and insight. Use multiple channels and create a detailed and accurate content plan to drive engagement.
  5. Don’t ignore the importance of SEO optimisation: If you’re investing in online content like blogs, articles, and more, you should optimise content for search engines. Using keywords effectively can improve visibility in search results. A comprehensive SEO process and strategy from a healthcare SEO agency like 42group will also provide sentiment analysis, search intent, and specific keywords that bring you closer to your core audience. 
  6. Prioritise interactive content: The digital world is all about the moving image (even if we’re a content agency). We recommend investing in interactive content like videos, animations, quizzes, polls, and webinars. If you’ve got the budget and the timeframe, you can consider investing in an app for the ultimate in creating patient connections. Interactive content and tools are all about personalisation and connecting your brand with patients. 
  7. Schedule regular updates: Keep content fresh and up-to-date by regularly reviewing, refining, and refreshing it. Work with your agency partner or in-house team to explore what’s working and why and what isn’t. Ask questions, push for answers, and constantly improve.
  8. Ensure compliance, accessibility, and accuracy: Ensure all content complies with healthcare regulations and is accurate. Content is accessible to every patient. Push for 100% accuracy in everything that you do. Mistakes are hard to rectify, and their impact can resonate.
  9. Incorporate feedback and analytics: Regularly analyse the performance of your content marketing activities against your KPIs. Balance numbers with feedback from real people and patients.
  10. Be bold, not boring: Patient engagement campaigns should use the best commercial tactics. Learn lessons from the world’s biggest brands and never, ever be boring .

Bringing content to life

Video content has become increasingly important in digital marketing strategies, including those targeted at patients. Videos and animations can demonstrate procedures, showcase patient testimonials, or provide educational material in a compelling way. In fact, videos and animations are particularly effective for explaining complex medical information, like patient pathways, in a simple and visually appealing way. 

Across the world, 91% of big businesses use visual content, according to digital marketers Hubspot. Are you using it? Professional videos can come with a hefty price tag that can be as low as £1000 for a basic piece-to-camera to £20,000 (or more) for a professional quality corporate video. 

Animations are increasingly popular. You can use long-form animations (a minute or more) or short “stings” – animations that last just a few seconds to grab the attention. It’s easy to get carried away with the creative, but in patient engagement,  it’s important to focus on the content that’s going to work for your patient cohort.

You can find some incredible examples of great healthcare content we’ve collated here. But don’t limit yourself to healthcare content; you can gain inspiration about great content from anywhere. In fact, the best digital marketers and healthcare promotions experts will gain inspiration from the best commercial campaigns and use the same tactics and techniques to engage their audiences. 

Healthcare providers should also consider investing in interactive tools like health calculators, symptom checkers, and personalised health assessments. While costly, these are the definition of personalisation and can provide huge amounts of value for businesses and patients. 

For example, studies have shown that mobile apps that track health metrics, provide medication reminders, and offer direct communication with healthcare providers can significantly increase engagement and empower patients to take charge of their health. As we move toward a future that’s defined by personalisation, we’re likely to see medtech emerge as driving a revolution in care. 

Measuring patient engagement content success

Patient engagement campaigns will have specific KPIs that define success. Many of these will include analysis of patient behaviours, adherence, brand perception, and more. We’re not going to consider those here. If you’re investing in content marketing as part of your patient engagement campaigns, you should consider setting out some clear patient engagement content KPIs.

We can split these into 5 categories;

  1. Traffic metrics
  2. Engagement metrics
  3. Conversion metrics
  4. SEO metrics
  5. Revenue metrics

We’re not going to go into this in detail because we’ve already done so in our healthcare content marketing KPIs guide.

Measuring KPIs is essential, and so is acting upon it. Data and insights gathered from analytics should inform your content marketing strategy and activities. Fundamentally, by analysing which types of content perform best, healthcare providers can adjust their strategies to produce more of what their audience engages with. This ensures a more effective and efficient approach to patient engagement that will deliver the best results for your budget.

Why better content drives better patient engagement

Effective healthcare content is an effective tool for healthcare providers, medical device manufacturers, and pharmaceutical companies to connect with patients on a deeper level. 

Successful content marketing campaigns begin by understanding patient needs, overcoming engagement barriers, and using an intelligently selected choice of content channels to engage patients.

Digital marketing is fast-moving, and patient engagement campaigns should be flexible and adaptable. By following trends and advancements in digital marketing, healthcare providers can anticipate the needs of their patients and continue to provide them with the valuable, personalised, and powerful content they need to make informed health decisions.

The future of healthcare is collaborative, and it’s driven by content. The best investment you can make for your business or brand? Content that builds human connections. 

Want to connect with your customers?

Get in touch!